CHARLESTON - A former employee and his wife are suing Apogee Coal Company LLC for exposing him to an unsafe working environment during his employment.

Kenneth Bevins was employed by Apogee from March 2003 until Oct. 8, according to a complaint filed April 12 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Bevins claims he was seriously injured while operating a dump truck during the court of his employment on Oct. 8.

While Bevins was dumping a load of rock and driving forward away from the load, the bed limit switch failed, allowing the bed to rise above the pre-set limits and when the bed topped out, it pulled the hoist jacks apart, causing the bed to free fall, according to the suit.

Bevins claims the oil supply line broke, causing oil to spray on the engine of the truck, resulting in  a fire.

The wind then blew the fire into the cab of the truck, forcing Bevins to exit the driver's side door, and when he attempted to reach the cab exit ladder, it was blocked by the windshield that had previously blown out of the truck, according to the suit.

Bevins claims when he attempted to move the windshield out of his way, the flames were shooting toward him and when he turned away from the flames, his hair and back were singed by the flames.

As a result of the exposure to the flames and jumping from the cab of the dump truck, Bevins suffered serious injuries, according to the suit.

Bevins claims the defendant had actual knowledge of the existence of the unsafe working condition and the high degree of risk and strong probability of serious injury or death presented by the unsafe working condition.

Apogee's actions caused Bevins to endure pain and suffering; mental anguish and emotional distress; annoyance and inconvenience; and the loss of ability to enjoy life, according to the suit.

Bevins and his wife, Victoria Bevins, are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by J. Michael Ranson and Cynthia M. Ranson of Ranson Law Offices PLLC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-708

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