Mingo man sues Hampden Coal for discrimination, injuries

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 15, 2016

WILLIAMSON – A man is suing Hampden Coal after he claims he was discriminated against because of his disability and then was injured on the job.

WILLIAMSON – A man is suing Hampden Coal after he claims he was discriminated against because of his disability and then was injured on the job.

Oliver Hunt was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Michael R. Varney was employed as an underground coal miner by Hampden at its Rockhouse Creek Development Mine Number Two, according to a complaint filed in Mingo Circuit Court.

Varney claims he was employed in a supervisory capacity as a third shift chief electrician and Hunt was the mine superintendent of Rockhouse, which made him Varney’s supervisor.

During the course of his employment, Varney consistently performed his duties in a satisfactory manner and met the defendants’ reasonable expectations, according to the suit.

Varney claims in December, he became ill and was hospitalized for pancreatitis and, as a result, he was required to miss several days of scheduled work and, after being released from the hospital, the day after he returned to work, he was summoned to meet with J.J. Pinson and Hunt.

At that time, Varney was removed from his salary supervisor position and told that Hampden “could not have a chief electrician not being at work due to illness,” according to the suit.

Varney claims he was removed from his position due to his illness and, as a result, he suffered and continues to suffer economic harm.

On Jan. 5, Varney was traversing to his section to perform work and was instructed to operate a three-wheeled vehicle to reach the mining section on which he was to perform work. While he was doing so, he was struck by a falling rock, which caused him significant injuries.

Varney claims he was awarded 17 percent permanent partial disability rating through the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Division.

Hampden had prior knowledge of the roof condition and had been previously warned of or viewed the unsafe condition prior to Varney’s accident, according to the suit.

Varney claims he was seriously injured as a result of the defendants’ actions.

Varney is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Nathan D. Brown and Joshua S. Ferrell of Ferrell & Brown PLLC.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Miki Thompson

Mingo Circuit Court case number: 16-C-113

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Ferrell & Brown, PLLC

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