This is a file photo of a Caterpillar 631C scraper.

CHARLESTON - A Raleigh County couple has filed a suit against a highway construction company and the West Virginia Department of Transportation after the man was injured on the job.

Theodore and Catherine Pettrey filed the suit Feb. 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court, naming Elmo Greer and Sons of Kentucky and the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways as defendants.

Theodore Pettrey was employed by Elmo Greer on Aug. 2, 2005. At that time, the company and the DOH were involved in a project on the Coalfields Expressway. The expressway is a four-lane highway in southwest Virginia and southwest West Virginia and is designed to be 116 miles long. It runs from Wise County in Virginia and ends near Beckley.

At the time of the incident, the crews were working near Sophia in Raleigh County.

On Aug. 2, 2005, Elmo Greer was "earthmoving," which involves the use of Caterpillar 631C Scraper machines. A Caterpillar 631C is a piece of heavy equipment, which contains a vertical moveable hopper with a sharp horizontal front edge that can be hydraulically lowered and raised. It is manufactured with a braking system.

Part of Pettrey's duties was to work with the Caterpillar 631C. On Aug. 2, the machine was not properly inspected and, among other things, it failed to contain a braking system. Pettrey was using the machine on a hillside when the engine failed and it began to roll downhill.

"(Pettrey) could not "brake" the machine using the hydraulic hopper because the rear of the machine was downhill and in fear for his life, he jumped from the Caterpillar 631 C and fell suddenly and violently to the ground resulting in severe and permanent injuries to his lumbar spine," the suit says.

The suit says that prior to his injury Pettrey and other employees complained to management several times concerning the lack of brakes. Also, several months before Pettrey's injury, at least one other Elmo Greer employee was hurt on the job to the lack of brakes the Caterpillar 631 C.

Pettrey claims in the suit that Elmo Greer was negligent because the company knew about the lack of brakes on the machine.

Catherine Pettrey has also been deprived of companionship and consortium of her husband. The Pettreys seek compensatory damages for the injuries and expenses.

J. Kristofer Cormany represents the Pettreys, and the case has been assigned to Judge Louis Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-331

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