MADISON -- A rock truck driver has brought a personal injury suit against Hobet Mining, claiming faulty operational parts of his truck bed caused him to suffer severe and permanent injuries.

Tony K. Richardson of Madison filed the sute July 13 in Boone County Circuit Court.

He operated truck 685 at Hobet 21 Surface Mine. The claim describes how he operated the truck in April 2010 to dump rock and overburden at an area adjacent to a valley fill location. Proceeding to position his truck to dump its load, Richardson says he heard "an unusual noise" coming from the truck bed. He says the dozer operator acting as spotter also heard the noise.

With the truck bed fully raised, complaint says dozer man advised Richardson that he suspected there was damage to the hydraulic lifting jacks. The men contacted their pit boss reporting concern about damaged lifting jacks posing a potential free fall of the truck bed.

Driver was instructed to move his truck out of the dump area, suit relates, and as he proceeded to lower the bed it fell onto the truck frame. Suit says driver and passenger side doors were knocked open by the force of the collision and Richardson was thrown from the cab, thereby suffering neck and back injuries.

Plaintiff says he was advised later that limiter switches on the truck bed lifting jacks had been removed, leaving the bed's jacks out of specification. Richardson taken to a hospital by ambulance, complaint says, but his injury was never reported to state or federal mine authorities.

Attorneys for Richardson are L. Lee Javins, D. Blake Carter Jr. and Brad Dorsey of Charleston. Citing "Deliberate Intent," the suit says Hobet required Plaintiff to operate a rock truck lacking limiter switches in violation of state and federal mine safety regulations. Complaint seeks jury judgment for an amount to be determined, together with court costs, attorney fees and pre-and-post-judgment interest.

Trial is projected for July 2012 before Judge William S. Thompson.

Boone Circuit Court case number: 11-C-146

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