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Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sago Mine survivor, widows sue companies

August 24, 2006

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— The lone survivor of the Sago Mine disaster and the families of two victims on Wednesday sued the mine owner and five other companies, alleging negligence that put the miners at grave risk as they went about their work underground.

All three lawsuits accuse International Coal Group and a subsidiary of shoddy operation of the mine near Buckhannon, and of producing unsafe conditions that led to the Jan. 2 explosion.

Twelve men died in the blast or succumbed during their prolonged entrapment, while survivor Randal McCloy Jr. was severely injured.

The lawsuits were filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court by McCloy and his wife, Anna; Judy Bennett, widow of miner Alva Bennett; and Lily Bennett, widow of miner James Bennett.

Each suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Besides targeting ICG and a subsidiary, Wolf Run Mining, the suits accuse a number of mine suppliers of failing to provide proper safety equipment. Named were Burrell Mining Products Inc., Raleigh Mine and Industrial Supply Inc., GMS Mine Repair and CSE Corp.

ICG said it had not reviewed the suits but that it planned to fight them. The company said it expected state and federal investigations, which have not been completed, to confirm that it was not at fault.

"The outcome of the Sago mine explosion was indeed tragic; however, that tragic outcome does not translate into negligence on the part of the company," ICG said in a statement.

Representatives of the other companies did not immediately return phone messages.

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