Crandall Canyon suits settled
The plaintiffs and defendants in civil lawsuits stemming from the August 2007 fatal accidents at Crandall Canyon coal mine have negotiated a comprehensive settlement agreement involving an undisclosed sum of money.
The plaintiffs, defendants and insurers recognized the factual complexities and questions of law involved in the civil complaints and, rather than engaging in lengthy litigation, decided to work toward reaching an amicable, reasonable settlement in the matter, indicated a joint media statement issued May 12 by the parties' legal representatives.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs included Colin King, Edward Havas and Alan Mortensen. Legal representatives for the mining companies included Kevin Anderson and Jason Hardin.
The parties expressed hope that the settlement would bring a measure of closure to the families of the lost or injured victims, company management as well as employees, management, Carbon- Emery residents and the coal mining industry in general, continued the joint news release.
The settlement culminated nearly one year of negotiations between 16 groups of plaintiffs, seven defendants and six insurance companies, pointed out a separate press release issued by UtahAmerican Energy, parent company of Crandall operator Genwal Resources. The complaints identified five private companies and two public entities as defendants in the civil lawsuits.
Assisted by a mediator, the parties negotiated the settlement agreement less than 24 months after the fatal accidents at Crandall Canyon.
Similar tort claims frequently take years to resolve, according to the mining company. For instance, the Quecreek mine disaster in Pennsylvania occurred in 2002 and the claims filed in connection with the incident were not settled until March 2009.
On Aug. 6, 2007, Crandall Canyon collapsed and trapped six coal miners in the underground shafts. Rescue crews scrambled to clear a passageway into the mine and reach the underground workers for 10 days.
A second bounce occurred on Aug. 16 and the falling debris claimed the lives of three rescue crew members. The bodies of the rescuers were recovered, but all subsequent efforts to locate the miners trapped in the initial implosion failed.
Following the first incident, the University of Utah's seismology center confirmed that initial mine collapse registered at 3.9 on monitoring instruments at the facility.
Last September, the Castle Valley community dedicated a monument honoring the three men killed in the rescue effort and the six underground workers entombed in Crandall Canyon coal mine. During the ceremony, participants unveiled a sculpture by artist Karen Templeton. The sculpture displays the likenesses of the nine victims.
The men killed in the rescue effort include Brandon Kimber, Gary Jensen and Dale Black. The trapped coal miners include Luis Hernandez, Don Erickson, Kerry Allred, Carlos Payan, Manny Sanchez and Brandon Phillips.
Although the terms of the Crandall Canyon settlement remain confidential, the negotiated monetary settlement reportedly exceeds the $22 million awarded in connection with the 1984 fire at Wilberg. The underground blaze claimed the lives of 27 victims and the bodies were not retrieved from Wilberg until the following year.