Arch Coal accused of unsafe working environment

By John O'Brien | Nov 1, 2013


BECKLEY – An employee of Arch Coal is alleging an unsafe working environment existed at the Beckley Pocahontas Mine in Raleigh County.

Donald R. Abner, Jr. filed a lawsuit Sept. 19 in Raleigh Circuit Court against Arch Coal, ICG Beckley and mine foreman Donnie Crum. It alleges that he suffered severe injuries to his legs as a result of a Jan. 18 accident

Though it does not specify what the unsafe working condition was, the complaint says a trier of fact will determine that it existed.

“(T)he employer, prior to the injury, had an actual realization of the existence of the specific unsafe working condition and of the high degree of risks and the strong probability of serious injury or death presented by the specific unsafe working condition,” the complaint says.

“(T)he specific unsafe working condition was a violation of State or Federal safety statute, rule, regulation, whether sited or not, or of a commonly (accepted) or well-known safety standard within the industry or business of the employer.”

The complaint charges the defendants with negligence. Abner says he has lost more than $100,000 in income and will lose more in the future.

He has also suffered, pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress. He is represented by Anthony M. Salvatore of Hewitt & Salvatore in Fayetteville.

On Oct. 16, the defendants removed the case to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Beckley.

Diversity of citizenship exists because Abner is a citizen of West Virginia while Arch Coal is a citizen of Delaware and Missouri, the removal notice argues.

Crum, the foreman and a West Virginia citizen, was fraudulently named as a defendant to defeat diversity citizenship, it adds.

Also, the amount in controversy exceeds a $75,000 threshold for federal jurisdiction, the defendants say.

Arch Coal is represented by Jonathan L. Anderson and Daniel L. Stickler of Jackson Kelly in Charleston.

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O'Brien at

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