The widow of a man killed trying to rescue a group of trapped miners in Crandall Canyon last year has sued the mine's owners.
Lola Jensen's husband, Gary Jensen, worked as an inspector for the Mine Safety and Health Administration. He was killed Aug. 16, 2007, while attempting to rescue six trapped miners.
But in a lawsuit filed Thursday in 3rd District Court, the widow claims her husband's death could have been avoided if mine operators had heeded any number of warnings about the danger of the mine's stability.
As early as 2004, an engineer reported that "weight on the pillars is substantial and dangerous conditions are present" in the mine, according to the lawsuit against Murray Energy Group, Genwal Resources and Agapito, among several other corporations.
The lawsuit claims Agapito officials used poor information to appease Murray Energy's desires.
"In the face of numerous reasons to exercise caution and try to prevent Murray Energy from conducting retreat mining that was clearly too dangerous, Agapito was still willing to risk the lives of others to keep Murray Energy happy," the lawsuit alleges.
Attempts to contact Murray Energy Group and its associates were unsuccessful Thursday evening.
After Murray Energy began retreat mining operations in February 2007, the company failed to report bounces in the mine in March and August 2007 to MSHA, according to the suit.
Failing to report these bounces "deprived MSHA of an opportunity to investigate and learn that the retreat mining plan was inadequate to ensure the safety of miners," the lawsuit says.
Just days after the first August bounce, a second bounce on Aug. 6 caused the mine to collapse, killing six miners. Ten days later, three men, including Gary Jensen, were killed in the mine as they tried to reach the trapped miners.
Lola Jensen's suit names Murray Energy, Utah American Energy, Andalex Resources, Agapito Associates Inc., Genwal Resources, Intermountain Power Agency and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as defendants. The suit seeks damages to be determined at trial."The acts and omissions by the defendants ... were motived by avarice and greed at the expense of safety and human life," the lawsuit claims.