West Virginia Record

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Raleigh County man blames mine company for injuries

By Chris Dickerson | Feb 22, 2006

CHARLESTON – A Raleigh County man blames a Beckley-based mining company for on-the-job injuries he sustained at a Kanawha County mine.

John Bolen filed the lawsuit against Speed Mining Inc. on Jan. 31 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Bolen says he is a longwall shear operator on the owl shift at Speed Mining's American Eagle mine in Kanawha County.

"The American Eagle underground mine is located in an area comprised by multiple geologic anomalies in the mine roof which has resulted in a long history of roof falls," the suit states. "Moreover, the area in question has a well documented overlying system of old oil (and other) works. In an effort to content with these hazardous conditions while continuing to extract coal from the American Eagle mine, Speed Mining developed an adverse condition plan for the mine site."

On Feb.25, 2004, under 800 feet of cover and geological anomalies were encountered by Bolen and foreman Jason Sizemore. Still, Bolen says the defendant directed him to work in this area known to be unstable.

"The mine foreman directed operations to continue in dangerous proximity the adverse conditions and old works," the suit states.

Then, there was an explosion of an old well propelling rock, coal, metal, water and other debris onto the plaintiff, who is being represented by attorney Brett J. Preston.

"Following this incident, defendant, through its officers, employees and agents engaged in a course of conduct to cover-up their illegal activity and conceal the extent of plaintiff's injuries," Bolen claims.

The suit says the cover-up ultimately was uncovered by mine safety officials, and it resulted in multiple violations and fines.

Bolen says he suffered severe permanent injuries and damages, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and suffering, permanent physical impairment, loss of wages and benefits, loss of future earning capacity and benefits, loss of capacity to enjoy life, medical expenses past and future, and annoyance and inconvenience.

He also claims the defendant is guilty of deliberate intent and violation of statute.

"Speed Mining's actions were so outrageous in character and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bound of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community," the suit states.

Bolen says the company intended to cause him severe emotional distress.

Bolen also claims Sizemore and other management knew failure to follow approved safety and adverse condition plans were violations of state and federal regulations, and contributing factors to his injuries. The willful, wanton and reckless conduct shows gross indifference, he claims.

Bolen seeks compensatory and punitive damages to be determined by a jury. He also requests court costs, attorney fees, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief.

He requests a jury trial.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jim Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-163

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