PINEVILLE – A couple is suing Pinnacle Mining after they claim it and others are responsible for injuries sustained in a work accident.

Seneca Coal Resources, Seneca North American Coal, Cliffs Natural Resources and Kenny Clay were also named as defendants in the suit.

Ricky A. Johnson was employed by Pinnacle and on June 21, 2015, he was instructed to use a cutting tort to sever metal bands holding a pipeline to a large steel beam located ten feet or more above the floor, according to a complaint filed June 1 in Wyoming Circuit Court.

Ricky Johnson and his wife, Melissa A. Johnson, claim that due to the unavailability of a scissors lift, Clay instructed Ricky Johnson to procure a forklift and place a wooden pallet on the lifting forks to provide a work platform for him.

After he was lifted on the improvised work platform, Ricky Johnson realized if he cut the bands while standing on the pallet, the pipeline would fall on him, according to the suit.

The Johnsons claim to keep from being crushed by the pipeline, Ricky Johnson climbed upon the steel beam to which the pipeline was attached, so that he could cut the bands from above the pipeline.

Unbeknownst to Ricky Johnson, there was an unmarked plastic delivery line attached to the steel beam, which carried flammable alcohol and, as he cut one of the bands, sparks and/or debris from the cutting torch fell onto the alcohol delivery line, causing it to puncture and leak alcohol, which, in turn, exploded in a flash and caught fire, according to the suit.

The Johnsons claim the defendants knew or should have known that the alcohol in the delivery line was flammable.

The explosion startled Ricky Johnson, causing him to fall from the steel beam from which he was working, according to the suit.

The Johnsons claim Ricky Johnson fell approximately ten feet to the concrete floor, severely breaking his ankle and suffering other injuries.

As a direct consequence of the defendants’ willful violations of safety rules and intent to expose the plaintiff to a risk of serious injury, Ricky Johnson incurred medical expenses in the amount of $144,274.52, according to the suit.

The Johnsons are seeking compensatory damages. They are being represented by Kevin B. Burgess, Christopher B. Frost and Steven R. Broadwater of Hamilton, Burgess, Young & Pollard. 

Wyoming Circuit Court case number: 17-C-84

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