MORGANTOWN -- Five employees are suing Eastern Associated Coal after they claim they were exposed to dangerous levels of methane gasses while working in a mine in Monongalia County.

John Renner, Randel Coffindaffer, Blair McGill and Patriot Coal Corporation were also named as defendants in the suit.

John Palmer, Scott Lepka, Clif Tennant, DeWayne Jarvis and Robert Hillberry were employed by Patriot Coal at the Federal 2 mine in Monongalia County, according to a complaint filed Jan. 25 in Monongalia Circuit Court.

The plaintiffs claim during their employment there were at least 19 occasions when Renner detected dangerous levels of methane gasses in the mine, but failed to evacuate the mine and falsified the readings in the record book.

As a result of the defendants' conduct, the mine was idled for an extended period of time, which caused economic loss to the employees, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim the defendants exposed them to a high degree of risk of harm and death.

The defendants intentionally exposed the plaintiffs and others similarly situated to serious injury or death by their outrageous and unlawful conduct, which caused severe emotional distress; annoyance and inconvenience; and economic losses, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Alex J. Shook, Jacques R. Williams and Timothy J. Manchin.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 12-C-42

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