MSHA Files Second Lawsuit Against a Kentucky Coal Operator

The federal agency overseeing mine safety filed a lawsuit against a Kentucky coal operator for failing to pay over $1 million in fines. It is the second such lawsuit the agency has filed in recent weeks.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is seeking an injunction against Harold Simpson, the controlling owner and operator of Simpson Mining Company Inc. and Motivation Enterprise Corp. for chronically failing to pay fines issued for violations dating back to the 1980's.

"MSHA will use all available legal means to ensure the deterrent effect of penalties," said David G. Dye, acting administrator for the MSHA.

The complaint filed by MSHA asks that the operator 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.

This is the second lawsuit MSHA has filed this month. A similar lawsuit was filed against another Eastern Kentucky coal operator, Stanley Osborne, on Feb. 6. (See the article http://www.occupationalhazards.com/articles/14688)

Osborne and two of his companies, Misty Mountain Mining and Midgard Mining LLC, have chronically failed to pay fines totaling to more than $800,000 for mine safety violations, according to the MSHA. An agency spokesperson said the suits against Simpson and Osborne are the first two in the country, but there will be more.

The lawsuits come just as MSHA has faced mounting criticism after a series of coal-mining deaths this year. Critics have accused MSHA of being lax in their penalty structure and have failed to protect the health and safety of mine workers.

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