Kentucky Jury Awards $8 Million in Dust-Mask Case

WYMT reports that a jury in Knott County, Kentucky has awarded a miner with black lung an $8 million verdict in a civil case involving product liability related to dust masks.

According to the Kentucky Trial Court Review, the $8 million verdict resulted from $4 million each in compensatory and punitive damages.

The case was tried by Rick Friedman with Adam Collins serving as local counsel.

The story from WYMT reads as follows:

HINDMAN, Ky. (WYMT)- One Eastern Kentucky man says dust masks did not prevent him from getting black lung in the mines so he took the manufacturer to court and won an eight million dollar judgment.  Lawyers tell us James Couch filed suit against the manufacturer, Mine Safety Appliances, after being diagnosed with black lung.

Officials say several entities, including OSHA, called for the ban of these masks in the 1970’s, but MSA continued to sell them. Couch wore the masks for 15 years.

“The main defense was, well the mask met government standards and we can’t be liable because they met government standards,” said primary attorney, Rick Friedman. “And our position was you knew that even though they met government standards they weren’t safe for use in the coal mines so you shouldn’t have sold them. That was basically the heart of the case right there.”

Mining Safety Appliances will appeal. Officials with MSA sent us this statement on the case saying quote,

“MSA Safety believes the jury’s verdict will be overturned and intends to seek review by the trial court, and if necessary the appellate courts of Kentucky. For more than a century, MSA has been developing products that protect the health and safety of workers around the world and has earned an outstanding reputation for product quality and performance. The products in this case were rigorously tested and certified by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. They are safe and effective when properly used.”

3 Responses to “Kentucky Jury Awards $8 Million in Dust-Mask Case”

  1. Doc Holliday

    I went Friday and heard the closing arguments. Rick Friedman is a fantastic lawyer! He is very low key but prepares his cases meticulously. He spent a couple of weeks in Florida with my litigation partner Al Hollon and spent extensive time with the expert witnesses. Al sat thru the entire trial and assisted with projects for Rick. I am hopeful that this verdict will raise the settlement values of our cases across the board.

    Doug Holliday

  2. kay amburgey

    what is the least amount that has been paid. ky husband worked 17 years on the long wall ans even tho they say he don’t have black lung he is on oxygen and can barley breath. they offered him 10,000 to 12 000 ans time they take out all rhe lawyer fees he will get around 5,000 for 17 years of suffering. what can we do?

    • Evan B. Smith

      I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s suffering. I cannot provide you with legal advice for your specific situation. I recommend that you talk with a variety of lawyers who handle Kentucky “state black lung” claims.


Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS