MADISON – A Boone County jury awarded a county man nearly $2 million Monday after it ruled a mining company had retaliated against him for filing a workers' compensation claim and later failed to reinstate him.

The verdict for George M. Peters was announced in Boone Circuit Court before new Circuit Judge Will Thompson. Peters had sued Rivers Edge Mining Inc., a subsidiary of Peabody Energy.

According to court documents, Peters broke arm while working in the mine in October 2003. He kept working with a cast on his arm until March 2004, when his physician ordered him to stop working because the break wasn't healing properly. After taking time off, Peters tried to return May 13, 2004, which is when he says Rivers Edge fired him.

After a two-week trial, the jury ruled that Peters' pursuit of workers' comp benefits was a motivating factor in his discharge and that the defendant unlawfully failed to reinstate him to his former position.

The verdict form shows that the jury awarded Peters back pay of $171,697, front pay of $513,410 and $200,000 for aggravation, inconvenience, humiliation, embarrassment and loss of dignity.

The jury also awarded Peters $1 million in punitive damages.

Peters was represented by Charleston attorney Mark Atkinson of Atkinson & Polak and Madison attorneys Harry and Matt Hatfield.

"We are pleased with the verdict," Atkinson said, refusing further comment.

Boone Circuit Court case number: 06-C-15

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