From what I've read, the miscomminciation started in the communications booth of the mining company.
From the AP
"It's sorrow beyond belief," International Coal Group Chief Executive Officer Ben Hatfield said during a news conference. ... Hatfield told the families that "there had been a lack of communication, that what we were told was wrong and that only one survived," said John Groves, whose brother Jerry Groves was one of the trapped miners.
What WE ("we" being the mining company higher ups) were told was wrong.
How the mistake happened has already come out. The mining company president talked about in on Wednesday and I am inclined to believe him as his explantion:
1. Makes logical sense
2. Blames his own company. If anybody gets sued over the issue of the news, it will be him, so I can't imagine what motive he has to lie. Presumably, if he were lying HE would be blaming the media. He's not.
According to the mining company people who were there, the rescue team was on speaker phone in the communications center. A message came through that sounded like "They're alive!" to the folks in the communications room. Then ANOTHER message that implied they were alive and headed back up to the surface came through. At that point, yes, the mining company employees got on their cell phones and started to call their friends' wives and children to tell them the good news. I'm inclined to think that anyone who says they would have done differently is kidding themselves.
Some 45 minutes after the first message, the correct message came through and, as I surmised in my post before I found this article, the higher ups wanted to make sure the bad news came from them and ordered their people not to tell anyone.
I cannot imagine who would get sued over the information confusion as everyone seems to have acted in good faith. The real lawsuits will come over why the accident happened in the first place.
Ps. The Hospital Fire situation you cite in your comments is different because
1. If the reporters were on the scene, they would have seen for themselves that no evacuation was taking place.
2. There were probably any number of people at the hospital who knew what was really going on. The only people who knew what was going on at the mine initially said the miners were alive, then stopped talking.