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1968 West Virginia mine explosion results in class action suit

On Nov. 20, 1968, an explosion in a Marion County coalmine cost 78 miners their lives. Now, on Nov. 6, a complaint has been filed by two individuals on behalf of the estates of all of those miners killed in the Farmington No. 9 mine disaster. They are suing Consolidation Coal Company and the estate of the mining company’s chief electrician. The suit alleges that he intentionally caused a fan alarm system to become inoperable.

The plaintiffs are seeking the sum of $110,000 for each member of the class action lawsuit. The reason for the $110,000 amount is that it was the maximum allowable wrongful death suit amount in the year that the accident occurred. The suit also includes punitive damages and interest for “intentional, grossly negligent and reprehensible actions on the part of the defendants.”

The chief electrician in question passed away in 1992. According to the complaint, his identity was not uncovered until June 9, 2014, which then prompted the filing of the lawsuit. A memo from a federal mine inspector, which was allegedly written in 1970, reveals the disabling of the safety alarm on the ventilation fan before the explosion. The disabled alarm made it impossible for anyone to be alerted if the fan stopped or slowed down. Investigators also discovered that the chart for the mine fan had been stolen from the fan box following the explosion, according to the complaint.

When a family loses a loved one to a senseless workplace accident, they could be considering filing a wrongful death suit. An employer could be held liable for the actions of one of their employees that allegedly caused the accident, as in this story. A personal injury attorney could help the family by explaining their legal rights and filing a claim on their behalf.

Source: the West Virginia Record, “Class action filed over 1968 Farmington Mine disaster”, Chris Dickerson, November 12, 2014

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