Fitzsimmons Law Firm recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf
of the family of a coal miner who tragically lost his life in a coal mining
accident. According to the Complaint, which was filed in the Circuit Court
of Marshall County, West Virginia, the plaintiff's decedent was working
between the panline and the longwall face shoveling previously blasted
materials from the mine floor when a large piece of coal and rock, measuring
approximately 12 feet long, five feet wide, and two feet think, fell from
the face, thereby striking and crushing him and pinning him underneath.
The plaintiff's decedent suffered severe and fatal crush injuries
as a result of the fall of face.
The plaintiffs allege that the coal company intentionally exposed its workers
to unsafe working conditions by failing to properly support the roof,
face, and ribs of the areas where the plaintiff's decedent and other
miners were working. The Complaint further alleges that the coal company
failed to properly conduct mandatory examinations of the work area after
performing the initial blasting work and failed to identify and/or deliberately
ignored hazardous and dangerous working conditions and, in particular,
a large crack which had formed on the coal face. The Complaint also asserts
that the coal company failed to develop and implement effective policies
and procedures to protect miners from fall of face hazards while working
on the panline and/or between the panline and the longwall face.
According to the Complaint, investigation by mining authorities revealed
that the coal face where the plaintiff's decedent was working was
not properly supported in that no face supports were installed. Investigation
by mining authorities further revealed that the coal company had not developed
or implemented proper safety procedures and protocols to protect miners
from a fall of the longwall face or rib while positioned on the panline
and/or between the panline and the longwall face. As a result of the incident
and subject fatality, the coal company was issued a citation by the Mine
Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for violating 30 C.F.R. §
75.202(a) by failing to adequately support or otherwise control the longwall
face and for violating 30 C.F.R. § 75.203(a) by utilizing a faulty
pillar recovery mining method that created an out of seam condition thereby
forcing minors to work between the panline and the longwall face.
The plaintiff asserts a "deliberate intention" cause of action
against the coal company (the employer) for violating W.Va. Code §
23-4-2(d)(2)(ii). In West Virginia, an employer is generally granted immunity
from negligently inflicted work related accidents. However, the employer
is stripped of this immunity if it is demonstrated that the employer acted
with "deliberate intention." In order to establish an employer,
or coal company in this case, acted with "deliberate intention,"
an employee must generally prove that the employer intentionally exposed
its employee to an unsafe working condition by knowingly violating a safety
statute or OSHA/MSHA regulation.
The Complaint also asserts negligence claims and claims for punitive damages
against the parent company of the coal operator alleging that it negligently
and recklessly supervised and controlled the work being performed at the
coal mine which lead to the subject incident.
The Complaint was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs and the statutory beneficiaries
of the plaintiff's decedent. The Complaint seeks all damages permitted
under law, including medical bills; funeral, burial, and memorial expenses;
the lost wages and benefits of the decedent; lost household services of
the decedent; loss of the decedent's society, companionship, comfort,
guidance, kindly offices, advice, services, protection, care and assistance;
and severe and extreme mental anguish and solace suffered by plaintiff's
decedent's surviving family members.
The Fitzsimmons Law Firm is a plaintiff's litigation firm headquartered
in Wheeling, West Virginia. For over 35 years, the Firm has successfully
represented workers injured or killed on the job including claims arising
from coal mining accidents, oil and gas accidents, industrial and construction
accidents, and equipment and machinery accidents. The Firm has obtained
over $800 Million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of its clients,
including over 150 cases in excess of $1 Million.