Injured Mine Foreman Settles with U.S. Government for $820,000


Recently, the federal government agreed to settle with an injured mine foreman for $820,000 due to injuries he suffered from electrical shock. The plaintiff, a mine foreman for Sreebs Slate & Stone, Co, was injured when inspectors from the U.S. Mine Safety Health Administration administered a surprise inspection and required the foreman to perform acts that presented obvious hazards.

In April 23, 2010, inspectors conducted a surprise inspection at the mining factory. Despite the plaintiff’s request to postpone the inspection due to rainy conditions, the inspection proceeded. According to the Legal Intelligencer, the inspectors asked the plaintiff to accompany the inspectors to the housed fuse boxes. A knockout hole within the fuse box was unplugged, and after being instructed the plaintiff attempted to replace the plug but was unable to do so because of a “kink.” One of the inspectors manipulated the plug with a hammer and pliers, and requested the plaintiff to re-insert the plug. At that point, a short occurred, which caused the fuse box door to open with a burst of light and the sound of electric arcing. The plaintiff was thrown 15 feet across the room, and suffered severe electrical burns as a result of the incident. The plaintiff sued the inspectors and the federal government for his injuries. He suffered second-degree burns over 11 percent of his body, including burns on his face, neck, hands, and arms.

Plaintiff Alleges Negligence

The plaintiff sued the defendants for negligent conduct. Conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm is negligence. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances. In this case, the plaintiff alleged the inspectors were aware that the power had not been cut to the powerhouse and that the fuse box was fully energized. The instruction to install the plug that had been manipulated with pliers when the power to the box had not been shut off was negligent on the part of the inspectors. Furthermore, the plaintiff alleged he was soaking wet due to the rainy conditions, thereby bolstering his contention that the inspectors acted below the standard of reasonable care as that of another inspector in similar circumstances.

Jury Award

The plaintiff claimed he incurred $260,000 in medical expenses. Ultimately, the inspectors were dismissed from the case because they were not the proper defendants, and the U.S. government settled the case for $820,000. As a result of this case, the Mine Safety Health Administration has mandated that inspectors are no longer allowed to instruct workers during inspections.

Have you been injured?

If you have suffered injuries while at work whether you were doing your daily responsibilities or following the instructions of inspectors, you may be able to claim damages. The experienced team of legal professionals at Solnick & Associates LLC will be able to answer any legal questions you may have. Call us today at 215-481-9979 or send us a message online.

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