Mining companies sued after Justice man suffers severe head trauma in workplace accident

By Molly English-Bowers | Oct 8, 2015

PINEVILLE – A Justice couple is suing over workplace injuries sustained by the husband, alleging that the mining company failed to provide a safe work environment.

Edward Ellis Jr. and Tina Ellis filed the suit Aug. 3 in Wyoming Circuit Court against Pinnacle Mining Co., Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., Cliffs North American Coal Inc., Cliffs Logan County Coal LLC, Cliffs West Virginia Coal Inc. and Cliffs Mining Services Co., citing negligence and a failure to maintain a safe work environment.

According to the complaint, despite pointing out a safety hazard regarding the height of the mine roof and track conditions to the defendants on several occasions, the plaintiff says the companies never addressed the problem. On Aug. 3, 2013, the plaintiff was traveling on the back of a transport vehicle in the mine, without a hard hat, when his head hit the roof protrusion that he and other employees had noted to the defendants. The complaint also states that the employees that operated the mantrip did so at unsafe speeds and that the plaintiff did not have time to react to avoid the hazard.

The resulting injuries were severe, the suit claims, including traumatic brain injury, impaired mobility and activities of daily living, permanent scarring and physical impairment. Both defendants have suffered lost wages and benefits, future earning capacity, future medical expenses and past medical expenses totaling nearly $1 million.

The plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages, court costs, attorneys' fees and any other relief the court deems proper. They also want a trial by jury.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs are Pamela A. Lambert and Karen S. Hatfield of Lambert Law Office in Gilbert and J. Kristofer Cormany of Cormany Law in Charleston. The case has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Warren McGraw.

Wyoming Circuit Court case number 15-C-153.

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