Wrongful Death Lawsuit Is Filed Surrounding Miner's Death

By: Jon Sonnheim Email
By: Jon Sonnheim Email

A wrongful death lawsuit says illegal drugs inside one Harlan County coal mine may have led to the death of 29 year old David "Bud" Morris, who was killed in the H & D Number Three Mine in December 2005.

The lawsuit filed Monday morning in Harlan Circuit Court on behalf of Morris' wife and infant son, alleges that the H & D Mine was well known in the community for employing coal miners with drug addictions and drug problems.

Even saying the room the miners' changed clothes in was known as “The Crack House," now those are just some of the allegations in.

Less than one week ago, Stella Morris was in Frankfort speaking to legislators about how her husband was killed in 2005 after a loaded coal hauler struck him from behind.

“His legs were amputated. The accident didn't kill my husband. The lack of treatment, made him die,” Morris said.

A lawsuit filed Monday morning alleges Morris bled to death and that co-owner and certified mine emergency technician Gary Bentley didn't provide proper first aid within the mine

“Received no medical attention from the m-e-t, the guy who is trained to do this sort of thing. He never touched him,” Phillip Monhollen said.

The lawsuit also alleges that Johnson Lifecare, an ambulance service, didn't treat the accident as an emergency.

An MSHA accident report says miners waited more than 30 minutes outside of the mine for them to arrive.

Also included in the lawsuit, allegations of drug use at H & D.

“The actual building that the miners changed their clothes in was called the crack house,” Monhollen said.

“He was hit by a miner who we have every reason to believe was impaired on drugs at the time of the accident,” Monhollen said.

The MSHA report says opiates and marijuana were found in the coal hauler operator's system after the accident and that opiates, marijuana, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone were found in Bud Morris' system as well.

Five of the seven companies and individuals named in the lawsuit had no comment.

P & P Construction and Gary Bentley, again, a co-owner of the mine, were unavailable for comment.


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