Contact: Dirk Fillpot
Phone Number: (202) 693-9406
Release Number: 06-211-ATL
MSHA Files Precedent-Setting Suit to Force Payment of Penalties
Injunction Sought Directly against Company Owner
PIKEVILLE, Ky. — /b>The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today filed an unusual and precedent-setting lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, seeking an injunction against mine operators who have chronically failed to pay assessed civil money penalties for violations of the Mine Act. The suit names both the mining company and its controlling owner.
"We will use every tool at our disposal to go after operators that refuse to pay their penalties for mine safety violations, and that includes holding the people who control them personally responsible," said David G. Dye, acting administrator for the mine safety and health administration. "The authority to assess and collect penalties is crucial to MSHA's mission of protecting miners' safety and health. We asked Congress to dramatically increase the penalties we can assess for egregious safety violations, and today's lawsuit demonstrates that we are serious about exercising our authority to the full extent of the law."
MSHA assessed numerous civil money penalties against Misty Mountain Mining and Midgard Mining for safety and health violations at the following sites:
Coal Mine No. 1 in 2003 and 2004 — $6,998; Coal Mine No. 2 from 2003 through 2005 — $36,201; Coal Mine No. 4 in 2004 and 2005 — $28,524; and Coal Mine No. 5 in 2004 and 2005 — $4,207. MSHA also assessed penalties against Midgard Mining in 2005 at its Mine No. 1 for $3,620 and Mine No. 2 (formerly Misty Mountain Mine No. 1) for $1,333. All mines are located in Pike County, Ky.
In October 2005, Misty Mountain Mining and Stanley Osborne"who owns both Misty Mountain Mining and Midgard Mining"were ordered by an administrative law judge for the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission to pay $10,000 in civil money penalties for discharging and discriminating against four miners who worked for Misty Mountain. This decision is currently under appeal.
The complaint filed by MSHA today asks that the operators be enjoined from failing to pay penalties for future violations of the Mine Safety and Health Act and be required to post a bond with the court to guarantee future compliance with the law.
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