Sergent, 34, lives at Deane with his wife and four children.
He was severely injured in a rock fall at ICG Knott County’s Kathleen mine on
September 19, 2011, which resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the
knee. Since the accident, Sergent has undergone several surgeries because of
problems with his prosthetic leg.
In September 2012, Sergent and his wife sued ICG Knott County and Arch
Coal, ICG’s parent company, in Knott Circuit Court, alleging that their
negligence had caused the accident and Sergent’s injuries. Arch had the case
removed to federal court rather than having it tried in state court. The federal
court subsequently dismissed ICG Knott County from the case because it was
immune under Kentucky’s stringent workers’ compensation law.
In order to keep the case against Arch Coal from being tossed out of court,
the Sergents had to present enough evidence to convince the federal judge, Amul
R. Thapar, that their claim against Arch deserved to be heard by a jury. The
judge ruled that the Sergents’ claim that Arch had assumed a duty for safety at
the Kathleen mine — based on actions taken by Stewart Bailey, Arch’s regional
safety manager — was backed up by enough evidence to proceed to trial.
The judge wrote that Bailey had visited the mine shortly before the roof
fall that injured Sergent, and, according to a miner at the face, he had
involved himself in safety matters regarding the mine roof. Accordingly, the
judge will hold a conference with the attorneys in the case this Friday to set
the case for trial.
Tony Oppegard, the Lexington attorney who represents the Sergents, said
that his clients are looking forward to presenting their case to a federal jury
"It’s a shame that big coal companies never do the right thing when a miner
is severely injured in their mines,” said Oppegard. " Instead of taking care of
the miner and his family, they fight like hell to keep from having to pay him a
dime. As soon as a miner is badly injured and is no longer productive, the
company throws him onto the scrap heap.”
Arch has alleged in its court filings that Sergent hasn’t suffered any pain
as a result of the accident.
"That’s an extremely demeaning position to take,” Oppegard said. " Jarrod
Sergent was a hardworking and skilled miner who doesn’t deserve to be treated
Arch Coal, based in St. Louis, is represented in this case by Kelley
Williams, an attorney with the Lexington law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl.