CHARLESTON - A Charleston man involved in a May 2005 mining accident in Raleigh County is suing five companies after falling nearly 300 feet in a tractor.
Jeffrey Allen Young claims that his accident at the Bridge Fork Surface Mine No. 1 in Fayette County was the result of negligence on the part of Fola Coal Company, doing business as Powellton Coal Company; Amvest Corporation; M.G.C. Inc.; Canadian Right-of-Way Clearing, Inc.; and The Crosby Group.
Young filed the lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court on Feb. 3 and states that he was assigned to the Bridge Fork mine by his employer, Canadian Right-of-Way Clearing, to work under the direction of Fola, Amvest and M.G.C. on property owned, operated, controlled or permitted to those three companies.
At the site, his job included clearing brush and trees from the side of a hillside. To do this, Young claims, he and other employees partook in an operation known as "yo-yoing."
"The defendants use a technique called 'yo-yoing,' wherein one bulldozer sits on a level surface at the top of the hillside," Young's claim says, "and the other bulldozer which pushes the tress and brush down the steep hillside is connected by a wire rope to the rear winch assembly of the dozer sitting at the top. The winch is used then to anchor the lower dozer and to assist in pulling it up the hillside after it makes passes to push the trees and brush down the steep hillside."
On May 19, 2005, Young says he was told to operate the lower dozer during "yo-yoing" by supervisor Raymond Caron and to use a Crosby hook with spring-loaded locking device to connect with the upper dozer.
Young also says that he suggested to Caron that a clevis-type coupling device would be preferable, but he was instructed to use the Crosby hook. He also notes that, because of spacing limitations, the upper dozer was situated in an improper position for the operator to adequately see Young's position at the bottom and in such a position as to increase the load on the wire rope and hook.
As the work began, Young claims, Caron left the site, leaving the crew with no certified mine supervisor and no one to perform on-shift hazard assessments during observation of dangerous work, such as "yo-yoing."
During the push portion of the activity, the Crosby hook's safety latch opened up, releasing the winch ope and causing Young's dozer to slide down the slope, he says. He dropped his blade to stop the sliding, and the dozer flipped and somersaulted over a 30-foot embankment and then down another 250-foot hill.
Crosby says he sustained serious injury to his head and brain along with injury to his back, neck and spine. He adds that he is "permanently and totally disabled and as a direct and proximate result of the conduct of the defendants, he further sustained the following damages:
"Extreme physical pain and suffering; extreme 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; incurred medical expenses past and future; annoyance and inconvenience; and permanent scarring and disfigurement."
Young lists six counts against the defendants in his claim: Unsafe workplace; breach of warranty of Crosby; negligent manufacture and distribution of Crosby; strict liability of Crosby; failure to warn of Crosby; and deliberate exposure.
He is seeking an amount to be determined by a jury and is represented by Timothy Bailey. Circuit Judge Irene Berger has been assigned the case.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-197