Boone man awarded $2 million in wrongful termination suit
MADISON - A Boone County man was awarded more than $2 million in punitive and compensatory damages after he filed a wrongful termination suit against Independence Coal Company, a Massey Coal subsidiary. Rocky Allen Burns filed the case May 11, 2006, claiming his firing was a retaliatory move after he reported safety problems to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Burns worked as an in-house safety inspector with the Independence Coal mine. A jury awarded Burns with $98,862 in back pay; $800,692 in back pay and $100,000 in aggravation, inconvenience, humiliation, embarrassment and loss of dignity. He was also awarded $1 million in punitive damages, making the total awarded damages a little more than $2 million. Charleston attorney Mark Atkinson, who represented Burns, said his client received the proper outcome. "We are pleased with the verdict," Atkinson said. The case was tried in Boone Circuit Court in front of Judge William S. Thompson.