By AP Business Writer
updated 5/10/2010 3:32:47 PM ET 2010-05-10T19:32:47

The United Mine Workers union and relatives of two men killed in the nation's worst coal mining disaster in 40 years are suing the federal government for the right to observe as investigators interview witnesses.

The lawsuit seeks a court order barring the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration from interviewing witnesses unless representatives of families and miners are present. It also calls for a formal public hearing on the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia that killed 29.

MSHA announced Thursday that it planned to interview witnesses in private.

The suit filed Monday in Charleston, W.Va., federal court names agency director Joe Main as the sole defendant. MSHA said in a statement Monday the process would be open.

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