West Virginia Record

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Former employee accuses mining company of negligence in co-worker's death


By Jenie Mallari-Torres | Aug 13, 2018

PINEVILLE — A Raleigh County man is suing a mining company, alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence and wrongful termination.

Charles Blankenship filed a complaint in Wyoming Circuit Court against Spartan Mining Company LLC, Maxxim Shared Services LLC and ANR Inc., alleging they failed to follow applicable safety guidelines and regulations.

According to the complaint, on July 29, 2016, Donald Workman, one of Blankenship's co-workers, was seriously injured at work when he was engulfed by flames and later died Aug. 4, 2016. The suit says Blankenship began complaining of escalating anxiety and fatigue, and worsening nervous issues and insomnia, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mood disorder, and sustained severe psychiatric and psychological harm from witnessing a friend and fellow coal miner suffer a fatal injury. 

The suit says Workman died as a result of his superiors' negligence in insisting Blankenship repair a loose guarding at the No.3 Pocahontas seam mine shaft pump installation despite knowledge that the plaintiff and Workman were not certified welders and lacked the training to conduct a gas test below ground in the uncapped and unventilated pump shaft, which resulted in a lethal methane explosion. 

Additionally, Blankenship says he sustained loss of pay, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life from the defendants' wrongful conduct of terminating his employment while he was on disability leave for severe PTSD. 

The plaintiff alleges the defendants failed to comply with federal and state mining laws and regulations, failed to follow proper safety protocols and procedures, failed to properly train Blankenship on welding safety procedures, and terminated his employment as retaliation for fully cooperating with the investigation and pointing out the defendants'  unsafe practices.

Blankenship seeks trial by jury, back pay and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees and costs, expenses, interest, reinstatement or front pay, and all relief just relief. He is represented by attorneys Stephen P. New and Amanda J. Taylor of Beckley.

Wyoming Circuit Court case number 18-C-68

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