Knott County man awarded 8 million dollar judgment in dust mask lawsuit

Published: Feb. 29, 2016 at 5:45 PM EST
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One Eastern Kentucky man says dust masks did not prevent him from getting black lung in the mines so he took the manufacturer to court and won an eight million dollar judgment.

Lawyers tell us James Couch filed suit against the manufacturer, Mine Safety Appliances, after being diagnosed with black lung.

Officials say several entities, including OSHA, called for the ban of these masks in the 1970's,

but MSA continued to sell them. Couch wore the masks for 15 years.

"The main defense was, well the mask met government standards and we can’t be liable because they met government standards,” said primary attorney, Rick Friedman. “And our position was you knew that even though they met government standards they weren't safe for use in the coal mines so you shouldn't have sold them. That was basically the heart of the case right there."

Mining Safety Appliances will appeal. Officials with MSA sent us this statement on the case saying quote,

“MSA Safety believes the jury’s verdict will be overturned and intends to seek review by the trial court, and if necessary the appellate courts of Kentucky. For more than a century, MSA has been developing products that protect the health and safety of workers around the world and has earned an outstanding reputation for product quality and performance. The products in this case were rigorously tested and certified by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. They are safe and effective when properly used.”