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Coal king sues John Oliver

CBS News logo CBS News 23/06/2017 Ned Ehrbar
"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.": johnoliver1503.jpg © HBO johnoliver1503.jpg

John Oliver can't claim he didn't see this lawsuit coming. 

Murray Energy Corp., the largest coal company in the U.S., has filed a defamation suit in West Virginia against Oliver, his "Last Week Tonight" program, HBO and Time Warner on behalf of the coal company's CEO, Bob Murray. 

Murray was the primary focus of Oliver's segment on the state of the coal industry that aired Sunday night on HBO. 

"The false and defamatory statements in this broadcast severely and destructively impact Mr. Murray ... as well as coal mining itself," the company said in a statement.

While preparing for the segment, Oliver's staff had reached out to Murray's company. They received a cease and desist letter in response, which Oliver then included in the broadcast.

"Bob Murray, I didn't really plan for so much of this piece to be about you, but you kind of forced my hand on that one," Oliver said during the segment. "I know you're probably going to sue me over this. But, you know what? I stand by everything I said." 

The cable network is also standing by what its Emmy-winning host said.

"We have confidence in the staff of 'Last Week Tonight' and do not believe anything in the show this week violated Mr. Murray's or Murray Energy's rights," a spokesman for HBO in a statement Thursday. 

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