Woman Sues DOH for Son’s Death
A woman from Webster County is suing the West Virginia Department of Transportation- Division of Highways for the wrongful death of her son.
According to the lawsuit filed April 30 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Mitchell A. Sanson was employed by Rob & Sons as a laborer. Mitchell’s mother, Maxann Lunsford, claims on Dec. 7, 2012, WVDOH entered into a contract with Rob & Sons for the cleanup of West Virginia. On Dec. 12, 2012, Rob & Sons entered into an agreement with Golden Eagle to provide support services, administration, supervision, control, monitoring, oversight and to act on behalf of Rob & Sons during the cleanup project. Lunsford has named Rob & Sons Construction & Excavation LLC and Golden Eagle Technical Services LLC as defendants in the suit as well.
According to the claim, On May 2, 2013, “Sanson was required to work in an area with unsafe conditions and other hazards associated with the removal of timber and debris from the property, contrary to industry safety standards and state and federal logging regulations, the work-site was not properly and adequately inspected and maintained to prevent serious injury and/or death from falling objects. Lunsford claims Sanson and his co-workers did not receive the proper and required training and personal protective equipment mandated under applicable state and federal logging regulations and consensus industry safety standards. Lunsford claims the defendants instructed the work crew to cut down a known “danger tree.”
The trees Sanson and his co-workers were instructed to work on were two locust trees situated next to one another on the side of a steep slope, approximately 15 feet from the roadway. The first tree that became entangled in the second tree, and instead of removing the first tree safely, Rob & Sons work crew decided to cut the second tree, in order to cut down both trees at the same time. Lunsford claims as the second tree was being cut, a portion of the trees broke loose, striking Sanson in the back of his head, neck and shoulder, pinning him on the roadway near the yellow center line. As a result, Sanson sustained catastrophic and fatally crushing injuries. He suffered until his death ten days later.
According to Lunsford, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a full-scale investigation into the death of Sanson. The OSHA issued several concurrent citations for the defendants’ failure to adhere to mandatory logging safety regulations, which resulted in Sanson’s death. As a result of the defendants’ acts and/or omissions, caused Sanson’s wrongful death. The defendants are liable to Lunsford for damages for Sanson’s pain and suffering; sorrow, mental anguish and solace; compensation for reasonably expected loss of income and earning capacity; compensation for reasonably expected services, protection, care and assistance; reasonable funeral expenses; and other expenses. Lunsford is being represented by Timothy C. Bailey and J. Ryan Stewart of Bucci Bailey & Javins LC; Sandra B. Harrah of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler PLLC; and Joyce H. Morton. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. Victims and their families should immediately retain legal counsel after such an event so that all evidence can be preserved and analyzed to determine wrongful death.