Miner blames belt roller for arm injuries

By Harmon Marks | May 16, 2012

MADISON -- A coal miner says an unsafe belt roller caused permanent and lasting injuries to his left arm.

Mountaineer Labor Solutions owned and operated a coal mine in Boone County where the roller injured Tommy Blevins, according to his complaint filed March 14 in Boone Circuit Court by Beckley attorney Stephen P. New.

The complaint names Independence Coal Co., Mountaineer Labor Solutions, Alpha Natural Resources Services, LLC; Alpha Appalachia Services, Inc. fka Massey Coal Services, Inc., as defendants.

Logan County resident Blevins says he was instructed by foreman Jason Chambers on March 31, 2010, "to cut excess strings off a bottom roller ..." when his left arm and hand "got caught in the belt roller." There had been complaints, according to Blevins, that the belt line lacked emergency safety switches every five breaks as required by State and Federal regulations.

Complaint says Blevins and Junior Ellis indicated the morning of Blevins' accident "that they did not want to cut string on the belt while the belt was in operation." According to complaint, the foreman told workers to cut string while belt was operating or go home.

Case says "Massey Defendants" acted in concert to operate the mine where Blevins was injured and breached their duty to provide a safe work place. Complaint seeks jury judgment joint and severally against Defendants for damages in an amount in excess of the jurisdictional limit, plus all interest permitted by law and litigation costs.

Judge William S. Thompson is expected to preside over a jury trial next March.

Boone Circuit Court case number: 12-C-56

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