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Widow of Ky. man killed in East Tenn. mine files wrongful death lawsuit

The documents show that the lawsuit was filed against Nyrstar Tennessee Mines Strawberry Plains, Brookville Equipment Corporation and Brookville Services.
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 11:24 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The widow of a man who died in an East Tennessee mine last year has filed a lawsuit against the mine and locomotive manufacturers/suppliers, asking for compensation for the damages the loss of her husband caused, according to court documents obtained by WVLT News.

The documents showed that the lawsuit was filed against Nyrstar Tennessee Mines Strawberry Plains, Brookville Equipment Corporation and Brookville Services. Nyrstar mine was where the man died. The Brookville companies were the manufacturers and/or suppliers of the subject 12-ton rail-mounted diesel locomotive, the report showed.

In February 2021, two miners, Cody Maggard and Harold Hackney, were assigned to work in an area known as the “484 Gallery Chute” to load ore into cars. According to documents, to do so, the mine had used a process that “was dangerous and deadly for several reasons,” including the absence of low clearance warning signs, water being on the chute and the lack of stop blocks or derail devices in place.

“Despite these known dangers that will result in injury or death, Nyrstar intentionally and deliberately required Maggard and Hackney to operate the locomotive with a known defective brake system and load cars in this specific unsafe area in order to ensure production,” the documents read. “As a result of this outrageous conduct, one can reasonably conclude that Nyrstar actually intended to injure or kill both Maggard and Hackney” the plaintiff’s attorney stated in the lawsuit.

In the afternoon hours of Feb. 22, 2021, Hackney was reportedly operating the locomotive with Maggard in the passenger seat as they approached the 484 Gallery Chute to load cars. According to documents, when the miners were approximately 20 feet from the chute, Hackney and Maggard were seen in video surveillance attempting to apply the service brake that ultimately did not work. Afterward, the locomotive reportedly didn’t stop then “violently collided with the chute” the filing in Federal Court said.

Cody Maggard, a 26-year-old from Kentucky, was transported to Knoxville by the Regional Forensics Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5:10 p.m. as a result of the incident.

The Harlan native’s wife, Ashley Maggard, filed the lawsuit almost a year later. It alleges that since the death of her husband, she had “been deprived of his support, comfort, society, advice, daily acts of love and affection and services all of which were substantial and of great value” and that the Nyrstar Mine, Brookville Equipment Corporation and Brookville Services were liable for the “pecuniary, economic, and non-economic value of the life of Cody Maggard, and his last death expenses and all other damages recoverable under the laws of the State of Tennessee.”

The documents state that Ashley Maggard was deprived and will continue to be at a loss of her husband’s companionship, support, and services due to the “negligence and recklessness” of all three defendants.

The documents also showed that following the fatality, the United States Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), performed an investigation and concluded that Nyrstar did not properly maintain the braking system on the locomotive, have procedures and rail devices to prevent locomotives from traveling into the chute, have a warning sign or light to alert miners of the low clearance hazard between the chute and the operator’s deck of the locomotive, properly conduct an examination of the locomotive, properly maintain the track, as it was covered in water and report track hazards or locomotive defects on the workplace examination record.

MHSA issued two citations to the mine following the investigation, one for the braking system and the failure to install roadblocks, derail devices or other devices to stop the locomotive from colliding with the chute despite the known defective braking system.

The Kentuckian was the first of three people who died at Nyrstar’s Tennessee locations in 2021. One resulted from a collapse in July 2021 that killed one and injured two others. Nyrstar has reportedly received several citations for “regular safety and health” violations in the last year at its Immel mine in Knox County, one being the day before the fatal July collapse.

Ashley Maggard stated that she wished to have a jury hear the alleged actions in the court documents to determine the compensatory amounts given to her.

Read the full filing below:

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