Former employees sue Speed Mining for injuries

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 26, 2011

CHARLESTON – Two former employees are suing Speed Mining after they were injured while working.

Steven Dewayne Hodges, another employee of Speed Mining, was also named as a defendant in the suit.

On April 15, 2009, James O. Thompson and Roy Michael Bunner were working at the American Eagle underground mine, when they were injured, according to a complaint filed Jan. 12 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Thompson and Bunner claim that in the weeks prior to the accident, the communication system utilized to enable the section supervisor to obtain clearance from the mine dispatcher to travel on the main line track was inoperative and the defendants failed to repair it.

On the day of the accident, the section crew, which included Hodges, boarded the track mounted personnel carrier for the purpose of traveling from the mine face to the mine portal in accordance with company shift change procedures, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim that because the mine communication system was inoperative, Hodges was unable to obtain clearance from the mine dispatcher to travel on the main like track. Instead, they claim, Hodges proceeded to operate the rail-mounted personnel carrier without approval, clearance or any assurances that the main line track was safe for travel.

Thompson and Bunner claim they were hauling supplies on the same track in the opposite direction of the personnel carrier that Hodges was in.

"The motor was loaded such that the operator's vision was obscured from observing the oncoming rail-mounted mantrip traveling on the same track in the opposite direction," the complaint states.

Neither the mantrip nor the motor was able to stop as they approached each other, which resulted in a violent collision, according to the suit.

Thompson and Bunner claim they sustained severe and permanently disabling injuries.

The plaintiffs claim Hodges and Speed Mining violated West Virginia Code by allowing an unsafe working condition to exist.

Thompson and Bunner are seeking compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by L. Lee Javins II, D. Blake Carter Jr. and Stephen New.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-66

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