The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the widows of two men killed in a fire in an underground coal mine have reached a settlement in the women’s lawsuit. The agency has agreed to pay $1 million and to develop a training course at the National Mine Safety and Health Academy in order to prevent fires in the future. The agency did not admit liability in the accident.

Incident Details According to lawsuit documents, on January 19, 2006, Don Bragg and Ellery Hatfield died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Massey Energy’s Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine.Two fire trucksA faulty ventilations system caused smoke to enter the mine’s escape route, reducing visibility. Miners had difficulty locating a personnel door that was unmarked due to the poor visibility, and lack of training caused them to have difficulty using their breathing devices. Ten miners made it out of the mine. Widow Lawsuit In April 2010, Delorice Bragg and Freda Hatfield filed a lawsuit against MSHA alleging that the agency was negligent. The widows filed a petition last week asking the U.S. District Court in Charleston to approve the settlement. The women hope that the training course will prevent another incident like that which occurred in Aracoma. Lawyers for the women said that there have been too many widows and too many injuries in the mining industry. Ongoing Criminal Investigation The lawsuit settlement acknowledges that there is still an ongoing criminal investigation into both the Aracoma incident as well as a 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 miners. The widows believe that it is management thinking that leads to such tragedies and hope to change laws that will better protect miners. When the negligence is suspected as the cause or contributing factor in an accident that causes death, a wrongful death lawsuit may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an accident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by negligence to learn what laws may be available to protect you and your family.

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