Knox Co. flood victims file lawsuit against coal company

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Dozens of flood victims in Knox County said a local coal company is to blame for deadly flash flooding that tore through Kay Jay back in June.

More than seventy people are suing the mine operators, including the estate of one man who died in the flood waters.

Walking his dogs is one part of Joe Partin's life that has not changed. He's lived in Kay Jay for 50 years.

"Been doing alright, got a lot of it cleaned up," said Partin, "It was a lot worse than the one they had back in the seventies."

Partin said he still can't believe what happened a few months ago.

"Occasionally it would come a big rain, and it would just keep beating and flowing down," said Partin.

In the wake of the flood, Partin and more than seventy people who live here have filed a lawsuit against Nally and Hamilton Enterprises.

They allege the coal company failed to follow mining practices and properly maintain silt ponds used for surface mining.

"It is a very quick event. It also brings a lot of mud, debris, coal, things you would expect to come into a creek because flooding is off the mine," said Paul Craft, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Attorneys said that is why the flood was so destructive, a sign it was not just an act of nature.

"People recognize that what they may have thought was only a flood event, otherwise is the result of bad mining operations," said Craft.

Partin is still cleaning up from where waters slammed a trailer into the side of his house.

But he said it will all be ok, since this is the only home he's ever known.

"I'll get everything straightened out," Partin said.

We called Nalley and Hamilton Enterprises and reached out to their attorney but have not heard back.

Attorney Paul Craft said they are working with other local attorneys to figure out whether a similar lawsuit can be filed in Bell County, dealing with the same type of flood damage in Middlesboro.


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