$5.1 Million Ohio Product Liability Settlement for Family of Coal Miner Killed in Mining Accident
Fitzsimmons Law Firm obtained a $5.1 Million settlement for the family of a coal miner who was killed in a coal mining accident. The coal miner was killed as a result of fatal injuries he sustained in an underground coal mining accident when a base lift jack catastrophically failed causing the cap to strike him in the chest. As a result of the accident, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas of Belmont County, Ohio.
In the underlying lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that her husband was killed as a result of the defendants' defective design and manufacture of the base lift jack and longwall shield together with their failure to provide reasonable warnings and/or instructions. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the manufacturer placed into the stream of commerce a base lift jack that was defective in manufacture and construction. The plaintiff alleged that the base lift jack was defective in that (1) the end cap weld had a crack-susceptible microstructure due to lack of proper preheat and (2) there was a lack of weld material fusion to the cylinder wall with a corresponding reduced strength weld joint. According to the plaintiff, the defective weld resulted from the manufacturer's failure to comply with generally accepted welding practices and its own manufacturing/design specifications in that there was lack of appropriate preheating and lack of sufficient fusion and penetration in the cap weld. Additionally, the plaintiff further asserted that the manufacturer failed to conduct a proper weld inspection and/or ultrasonic test on the subject base lift jack as required by its own policies and procedures. Had ultrasonic testing been properly performed, the plaintiff alleged that testing would have identified the defects in the weld. The plaintiff asserted causes of action against the manufacturer under the Ohio Product Liability Act and specifically Ohio Rev. Code § 2307.74 (defect in manufacture or construction), § 2307.75 (defective design or formulation), § 2307.76 (inadequate warning and/or instruction), and § 2307.77 (nonconformance with manufacturer's representation).
The plaintiff also asserted claims against a defendant who had refurbished the base lift jack approximately two months prior to the incident. According to the plaintiff, the defendant negligently maintained and repaired the base lift jack by installing a replacement rod that was too long. This caused an increase in the overall collapsed length of the jack as compared to the OEM cylinder. As a result, the plaintiff alleged that the negligent repairs and new cylinder rod allowed for impingement of the rod on the end of the cylinder in more situations than with the original design thereby contributing to the failure.
The plaintiff also brought a cause of action against the coal operator for a workplace intentional tort pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code § 2745.01. According to the plaintiff, the coal operator knowingly failed to comply with applicable MSHA and Ohio mining laws and regulations, including 30 C.F.R. 75.1725(a) (operation and maintenance of machinery and equipment).
The plaintiff filed the underlying wrongful death lawsuit pursuant to Ohio Revised Code §§ 2125.01, et seq., as the personal representative of the Estate of her deceased husband. In her Complaint, the plaintiff sought damages for the loss of support from the reasonably expected earning capacity of the plaintiff's decedent; loss of services of the plaintiff's decedent; loss of the society of the plaintiff's decedent, including loss of companionship, consortium, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, and education; loss of prospective inheritance; and mental anguish. The plaintiff also sought damages for pre-death pain and suffering incurred by her decedent prior to his wrongful death.
As part of the settlement, the employer waived its right to seek subrogation for the amount of workers' compensation benefits paid.
Fitzsimmons Law Firm is a plaintiff's litigation firm headquartered in Wheeling, West Virginia. The Firm has successfully represented workers injured or killed on the job in a wide variety of cases, including coal mining accidents, oil and gas drilling accidents, workplace explosions, construction accidents, fall accidents, workplace toxic and chemical exposure, and other work related injuries. The Firm has obtained over $800 Million in verdicts and settlements for its clients, including more than 150 cases in excess of $1 Million.
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