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Consol Energy Sued By Daughter Of Man Whose Leg Was Ripped Off At Mine

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CONSOL ENERGY MINERS
AP

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — The daughter of an Ohio man whose leg was ripped off in an accident last fall at West Virginia's Shoemaker Mine has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Consol Energy Inc.

Charles "Whitey" McIntire died Oct. 17, 2011, when a ditch-digging machine surged forward and ran over him. The 62-year-old Shadyside resident had nearly 10 years of mining experience and almost six years at the Marshall County mine near Benwood.

The lawsuit says Consol and McIntire's supervisor failed to conduct a safety hazard inspection, failed to properly maintain the equipment in safe operating condition and failed to ensure the machine had emergency shut-off switches.

Those failures caused McIntire "sustained extreme pain and suffering, both physical and mental" before he died, his daughter, Gene Ann Mare Blythe, argues in the lawsuit.

The complaint was originally filed in Marshall County Circuit Court but recently transferred to U.S. District Court in Wheeling. Pennsylvania-based Consol hadn't filed a response by Wednesday, and the company didn't immediately comment.

McIntire, who worked as a timber man and laborer, was part of a crew that was assigned to clean up material that had fallen near a main hauling line. The lawsuit says supervisor Joseph Ontko failed to conduct either a job safety analysis or a hazard assessment before sending the crew in.

The crew determined the rocks were too big for the equipment they'd been using and decided they needed a ditch digger. Ontko told McIntire to take the machine underground, the lawsuit says, knowing it was not equipped with the proper safety devices.

The machine was "unreasonably dangerous and unfit for duty," with controls that weren't marked properly. The lawsuit says McIntire also informed his boss that his training on the machine may have expired. Ontko then provided about 25 minutes of refresher training.

State mine safety investigators said McIntire was running the machine when it reached a gap in a trolley wire and didn't coast through. McIntire got off the machine and put a jumper cable on the wire. The machine moved forward suddenly when he connected the jumper cable to it.

The lawsuit says the machine crushed McIntire underneath, severing his right leg at the hip, tearing open his stomach and spilling his intestines. As he lay pinned, "McIntire was conscious and experienced significant pain and suffering," the lawsuit says.

He was pronounced dead about two hours later at Wheeling Hospital.

The state Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training issued two violations after the accident, one for failing to ensure the machine had an emergency stop switch and one for failing to maintain it in a safe operating condition.

The lawsuit demands compensation for McIntire's pain and suffering, medical bills, funeral expenses and lost wages and earning capacity.

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