Complaint: Gas, coal companies ruined health, home

Ralph B. Davis rdavis@civitasmedia.com

April 17, 2014

PRESTONSBURG — A Turkey Creek woman claims in a lawsuit that she lost her health and her home, due to negligence by a gas utility and a coal company last spring.

Reba Slone, through her attorney, Hindman lawyer Timothy C. Bates, filed suit April 10 in Floyd Circuit Court against EQT Production Company and North Star Mining, seeking compensation for past, present and future health problems, as well as for the loss of her home. She is also seeking punitive damages against the companies, for their alleged “reckless disregard and gross negligence.”

In her complaint, Slone alleges that a May 26 subsidence caused by North Star’s mining operation near her home damaged a gas well and gas lines operated by EQT on her property. The resulting leak, she says, resulted in permanent damage to her health and deprived her of the use of her home.

Slone alleges that EQT did not drill the well properly and failed to maintain and repair it.

“EQT Production Company was under a duty of care to construct and maintain their gas distribution system so as to prevent the escape of gas therefrom,” Slone’s complaint says. “However, they so carelessly and recklessly allowed the gas well and/or the lines running from the gas well in the vicinity of Reba Slone’s home to become and remain in such a state of disrepair that EQT Production Company’s natural gas escaped from their gas well and/or the lines running therefrom.”

Similarly, Slone alleges that North Star acted recklessly in its mining operation.

“In total disregard of the duty owed to the plaintiff, and other members of the public, the defendant, North Star Mining Inc., their agents, servants or employees, created and exacerbated a dangerous, extremely volatile, ultra-hazardous and potentially deadly condition due to their mining operations being in such close proximity to EQT Production Company’s gas well and due to their negligence in causing said gas well to become damaged and leak gas,” Slone’s complaint says.

Slone is seeking a trial by jury.

EQT and North Star have not yet responded to the lawsuit.