Longtime Mingo County politician sues school board after sustaining injuries at football game

By Chris Dickerson | Nov 15, 2018

WILLIAMSON – A longtime Mingo County political figure has filed a lawsuit against the county school board for injuries he sustained while attending a high school football game.

“Big” Jim Hatfield, 79, filed his lawsuit Nov. 2 in Mingo Circuit Court against the Mingo County Board of Education.

According to the complaint, Hatfield was attending a Class AAA football playoff game at Mingo Central High School on Nov. 26, 2016. The Miners played host to the James Monroe High School Mavericks.

Hatfield says the school board “permitted large, jagged-edge rocks and other debris to protrude above the ground in its public parking area adjacent to the football stadium, creating uneven, unsafe surface conditions,” the complaint states. It also says the board “did not install or provide adequate lighting or warning signs on its said parking area, which caused these rocks and holes to be hazardous. … The rocks were not readily visible.”


Hatfield says he was returning to his vehicle after the game at around 9:30 p.m. when he tripped on a rock and fell, causing him to suffer severe injuries.

Hatfield “remains sick, sore, lame, disabled and sustained musculoskeletal injuries to his lower extremities and spine,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff has undergone physical therapy. Plaintiff continues to have pain in his knees, hips and spine. He requires a cane to walk that he did not require before this fall.

“He is unable to travel to and from work due to his pain and serious permanent injuries. Plaintiff will continue to suffer great pain in body and mind, to his damage in a great monetary sum.”

Hatfield was Mingo County Clerk, but he says he had to resign that position because of his injuries “have rendered him disabled.”

He seeks compensatory damages limited the board’s insurance policy administered by the state’s Board of Risk and Insurance Management, pre-judgment interest, attorney fees, court costs and other relief.

Hatfield resigned Oct. 29 during a Mingo County Commission meeting. Before he became county clerk in 2002, he was a county commissioner and a former deputy sheriff. He also worked in the coal industry.

Hatfield is being represented by H. Truman Chafin of The Chafin Law Firm in Williamson. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Miki Thompson.

Mingo Circuit Court case number 18-C-142

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