Mining company seeks removal to federal court

By Audrey Holsclaw | Jun 4, 2008

BECKLEY -- A Delaware corporation is seeking a removal to federal court following an workplace accident.

Michael Paitsel of Wyoming County was employed by Brooks Run Mining Company LLC as a utility man at the War Branch No. 1 underground coal mine in Iaeger. On Jan. 25, 2006, Brooks Run Mining Company LLC was utilizing a rubber-tired mantrip to transport personnel to and from the worksite inside the mine. It had been used previously at their Cucumber mine, where the roof of the mine was considerably taller. The mantrip had high profile tires because of its previous location, but once it was moved to the War Branch mine, it could not safely clear the War Branch's mine roof.

According to his suit, filed on May 15, 2008, in McDowell Circuit Court, Paitsel was on the mantrip as it traveled out of the mine, and he hit his head on the mine roof with so much force that it cracked his hard hat. He also sustained a closed head injury.

Filed by Timothy Bailey and D. Blake Carter Jr. of the Charleston firm of Bucci Bailey & Javins, the suit states that Brooks Run Mining Company LLC intentionally required Paitsel to work on and around the mantrip, which did not conform with the mining height and conditions in the War Branch mine. It also states that this posed an increased risk of serious injury and death and that Brooks Run Mining Company LLC had actual knowledge of the existence of the unsafe working conditions. According to Paitsel, the irony of the suit is that a simple tire replacement, which was recommended by several employees and highly cost effective, could have easily prevented the accident from ever occurring.

Paitsel was seeking compensatory damages for extreme physical pain, suffering, and mental anguish; permanent physical impairment, scarring, and disfigurement; loss of wages, benefits, future earnings, future benefits, and capacity to enjoy life; past and future medical expenses; and annoyance and inconvenience.

In a complaint filed May 29 by Pamela Tarr of the Charleston firm of Jackson Kelly, Brooks Run Mining Company is seeking a removal to the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia because of diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy. Brooks Run Mining Company is a Delaware corporation with its principal office in Beckley, one of its subsidaries is located in Abingdon, Va., the War Branch No. 1 mine is in Iaeger, and Paitsel resides in Oceana. While no sum is named in Paitsel's suit, Brooks Run Mining Company is under the impression that it would be well over $75,0000.

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