South Carolina man blames Commonwealth Mining, others for work injuries

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 5, 2013

WINFIELD - A Charleston, S.C., man is suing Commonwealth Mining LLC for injuries he sustained while working.

Joe Murdock, Pocahontas Coal Company and North Star One LLC were also named as defendants in the suit.

On Jan. 15, 2012, Thomas M. Scott was employed by Commonwealth and North Star One, where he performed work as an apprentice miner at Pocahontas' Tommy Creek mine,  according to a complaint filed March 27 in Putnam Circuit Court.

Scott claims on that day, the defendants identified problems with the Model No. 53 Superior Highwall Miner, which was used to cut the coal out of the earth.

The defendants' management determined that the auger in the cutter head was operating improperly and the auger pedestal was broken, according to the suit, as well as having a faulty counterbalance valve, which partly effects the movement of the cutter drum on the miner.

Scott claims as a result of the faulty counterbalance valve, the cutter drum would leak off, causing the drum to fall and the defendants knew that the cutter drum would leak off and fall.

To repair the miner, the defendants placed the cutter drum on a pad of coal or coal refuse, according to the suit.

Scott claims Murdock directed him to cut the auger pedestal bolts from the cutter module on the highwall miner, which required him to work in an area beneath the unsupported cutter drum.

While performing the work as directed, Scott was not supervised by an experienced miner, as required by mine safety regulations, according to the suit, and while cutting the pedestal bolts from the cutter module, the unsupported cutter drum leaked down and fell, smashing Scott's leg.

Scott claims as a result of the unsafe conditions he was required to work in, he suffered severe and permanently disabling injuries, including complex puncture wounds to his left leg and an open tibia fracture of the left leg.

The defendants intentionally required Scott to work in an area under an unsupported piece of equipment with a faulty counterbalance valve, in direct contravention of state and federal mine safety rules and regulations, exposing him to serious injury or death, according to the suit.

Scott claims he was instructed to perform work in an area beneath the unsupported cutter drum of the highwall miner and while he was working, it fell and smashed his leg.

Scott is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by D. Blake Carter Jr. and Mark A. Barney of Bucci, Bailey & Javins LC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Joseph K. Reeder.

Putnam Circuit Court case number: 13-C-87

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