MADISON -– A coal miner has filed a product liability suit against Mine Safety Appliance Co. and four of its distributors charging respirators manufactured and sold by the defendants failed to protect him from harmful dust in his workplace.

Harold Williams of Foster accused MSA of producing a respirator with a hidden leakage problem in his complaint filed last month in Boone Circuit Court.

"When used in coal mining conditions," Williams asserts, "the respirators leaked substantial amounts of harmful dust into the breathing zone ... including through the filter ..."

The complaint says "harmful dust leaking through the filter ... was not detectable by the human senses because it was too small in size."

Defendants named with the Pittsburgh manufacturer are Persinger Supply Co. of Prichard, Raleigh Mine & Industrial Supply Co. of Mount Hope, Eastern States Mine Supply Co. of Madison and Pineville Mine Supply, Inc., of Pineville.

Representing Williams, who worked in mines from 1975 into 2007, is Williamson attorney John Hunt Morgan.

They say Williams developed advanced lung disease known as pneumoconiosis, or "black lung," because of the hidden defect in MSA respirators with no adequate warning.

Williams and his wife, Sharon, demand jury judgment for compensatory damages in an amount fair and reasonable as shown by the evidence, punitive damages against MSA only, their court costs, pre- and post-judgment interest and all further relief to which they are entitled.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge William S. Thompson.

Boone Circuit Court case number: 10-C-280

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