Families of KY Miners Sue Coal Company

Source:

"The Dotiki mine had been cited hundreds of times for safety violations."

The families of two coal miners killed in a roof collapse in 2010 in western Kentucky sued the mine operator on Monday, saying production was emphasized over safety at the Dotiki mine, which had been cited hundreds of times for safety violations.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Kentucky by Sandy Travis of Dixon and Melissa Carter of Hanson, whose husbands died in the April 28, 2010, collapse. They also filed claims with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration seeking $9 million each for personal injury and wrongful death.

Travis is seeking up to $5 million in punitive damages in the lawsuit, while Carter, who is also suing on behalf of the couple's minor son, is asking for up to $10 million in punitive damages. Both are also asking for an undisclosed amount in compensatory awards.

Travis and Carter said in the lawsuit that safety was secondary at the mine. State and federal officials cited the mine, run by a subsidiary of Oklahoma-based Alliance Resource Partners, more than 1,000 times between January 2009 and the day of the roof collapse. Among those citations 13 closure orders and at least 57 citations in the two years before the roof collapse.

Justin Travis, 27, and Michael Carter, 28, were clearing loose rock in the mine on the Hopkins-Webster County line when the roof collapsed, trapping and killing both men.

Eberley Davis, general counsel for Alliance Resource Partners, said the company hasn't seen the lawsuit and declined to respond to the specific allegations. But investigations by company, state and federal officials concluded that the subsidiary running the mine, Webster County Coal, could not have known about the geographic anomaly that caused the collapse, Davis said.

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