UBB victim's family sues mine contractor

THE father of a miner killed in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia has filed a lawsuit against an Ohio contractor firm retained to carry out safety examinations at the Raleigh County complex.
UBB victim's family sues mine contractor UBB victim's family sues mine contractor UBB victim's family sues mine contractor UBB victim's family sues mine contractor UBB victim's family sues mine contractor

The Upper Big Branch mine.

Donna Schmidt

Scott Napper of Ohio filed the wrongful death suit against David Stanley Consultants at Raleigh County Circuit Court last Thursday, the second anniversary of the UBB blast.

His son, Josh Napper, was one of the 29 miners who died in the explosion. The 25-year-old died alongside his uncle Tim Davis Jr, 51, and his cousin, 20-year-old Cory Davis.

The Associated Press reported Napper claimed the contract firm was as much to blame for the contributory conditions that resulted in the mine explosion as then-owner Massey Energy.

The father, who is seeking unspecified compensation for loss of income, mental anguish and more, also said a failure to do weekly examinations between January 1 and April 5, 2010, the day of the blast, created a “very obvious hazardous condition” which was “more than ordinary negligence”

Investigations into the incident have found it was caused by a methane gas ignition fueled by an accumulation of combustible coal dust. Worn equipment and inadequate ventilation were also contributory factors.

Last December, David Stanley Consulting received two contributory and two non-contributory violations from MSHA with total penalties of $US142,684. The firm, which also supplied examiners and miners to work at UBB, was cited for the examiners’ failure to properly conduct examinations.

The citations issued to DSC were part of $10.8 million in civil penalties issued at the time to former UBB owner Massey Energy. Federal investigators pointed to “corporate culture” as the root cause of the blast and handed down 369 safety violations, including 12 it said contributed to the explosion and nine which were classified as flagrant, thus carrying the highest possible penalties.

Some of the violations included providing advance notice to miners of MSHA inspections; failing to properly conduct required examinations; allowing hazardous levels of loose coal, coal dust and float coal dust to accumulate; failing to adequately apply rock dust to the mine; failing to adequately train miners; and failing to comply with approved ventilation plans and approved roof control plans.

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