Sago seal lawsuits settled

LAWSUITS filed by the families of victims of the Sago mine explosion in West Virginia have been settled with two of the mine's suppliers.

Donna Schmidt

According to the Associated Press, the details surrounding the deal made with Burrell Mining Products and Raleigh Mine and Industrial Supply are confidential. The circuit court judge in Kanawha County, West Virginia, where the suit originated, approved the deal.

The two companies produced and distributed the OMEGA Blocks seals that failed in the January 2006 explosion. Pennsylvania firm Burrell manufactured the block seals, and they were supplied to the Sago operation by West Virginia-based Raleigh.

The settlement brings to a close the involvement of the explosion's only survivor, Randal McCloy Jr, the news service said. He and the estate of one of the late miners, David Lewis, against mine owner International Coal Group, settled in March under undisclosed terms.

The families of Lewis and another worker, Jerry Groves, will divide the settlement from Burrell and Raleigh, but a judge must decide how that is to be done, according to the AP. A hearing on the matter will be held in the next month.

Twelve men perished in the accident at the operation: Lewis, Groves, Alva Martin Barrett, Jim Bennett, Martin Toler, Jesse Jones, Tom Anderson, George Hamner Jr, Marshall Winans, Jackie Weaver, Terry Helms and Fred Ware Jr.

Many of the group were long-time mining veterans. The miners had been the first regular production workers entering after a holiday shutdown, and they were found about 260ft under the surface and 13,000ft in at the Tallmansville complex.

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