Mount Nebo couple sue Massey for respirable dust exposure

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 22, 2013

CHARLESTON - A Mount Nebo couple are suing Massey Energy Company for exposure to illegal and unsafe levels of respirable dust that resulted in a diagnosis of complicated pneumoconiosis.

Alpha Appalachia Services Inc.; Green Valley Coal Company; White Buck Coal Company; Alex Energy Inc.; Don L. Blankenship; J. Christopher Adkins; Gary Frampton; David C. Hughart; Brooks Run Mining Company LLC; Little Eagle Coal Company LLC; and John Doe Entities were also named as defendants in the suit.

Collis L. Bickford has been employed at various times by the defendants since April 2004, according to a complaint filed March 8 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Bickford and his wife, Judy Bickford, claim the defendants exposed Collis Bickford to illegal and unsafe levels of respirable dust, which has caused him to suffer complicated pneumoconiosis.

With proper workplace protection, workers such as Collis Bickford should never ultimately suffer from complicated pneumoconiosis, according to the suit.

The Bickfords claim the defendants failed to implement the required monitoring, management and reporting system; violated the public reporting requirements; failed to create and oversee a system for reporting safety compliance issues and to adopt whistleblower protections; failed to fulfill the training-related review, recommendation and reporting requirements; and failed to make a good faith effort to reform Massey's corporate governance as intended by and required under the Massey Governance Agreement.

As a result of Collis Bickford's illnesses and diseases, Judy Bickford has lost financial support, general services, companionship, love, advice and society of her spouse, according to the suit.

The Bickfords are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Timothy C. Bailey and J. Ryan Stewart of Bucci, Bailey & Javins and Gregory A. Lofstead of Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-473

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