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U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

The plaintiff was attempting to assist in dislodging rocks which were stuck in a rock chute in a mine located in Routt County, Colorado, where the plaintiff was employed. When the rocks became dislodged, rocks in the chute above the plaintiff’s head came out of the access door and struck the plaintiff, knocking him of a ladder onto the ground below. The defendant maintained that the plaintiff and his employer were negligent in their operation of the rock chute.

On June 6, ________, at approximately 4:40 P.M., the plaintiff Kyle Webb was seriously injured in a fall and a falling rock accident at the underground rock chute located at the "Glory Hole" at the Foidel Creek Mine in Routt County, Colorado. At the time of the incident, the 26-year-old male was acting within the course and scope of his employment for RAG American Coal Co. The plaintiff was assisting in unplugging the rock chute, which was approximately five feet by five feet in a cross-section area and approximately 43 feet high. The chute was located in a 12-foot diameter, 50 foot deep, steel lined shaft. The underground rock chute where the plaintiff was injured was part of a transfer system consisting of two vertical components, a coal bin and a rock chute. The transfer system was designed by the defendant Continental Conveyor.

The component parts and design plans which were used to construct the transfer system were sold by the defendant Continental Conveyor to the plaintiff’s employer RAG American Coal Co. The chute was equipped with four access doors located adjacent to a fixed, vertical ladder. The plaintiff climbed up the ladder in order to effectuate clearing the chute. During this time, one of the plaintiff’s coemployees was spraying water through the bottom access door onto the plugged material at the bottom of the chute while another employee was using a sledgehammer to pound on the chute below where the water was being applied. After the plaintiff climbed up the ladder past the employees who were in p 7 3 the process of attempting to unplug the material, the plugged material in the chute suddenly started to move and, at the same time, rocks started falling out of the uppermost door of the chute. The falling rocks knocked the plaintiff off of the ladder causing him to land some 35 feet below on the walkway at the bottom of the ladder. The falling rock continued to strike the plaintiff until the upper access door was closed. The plaintiff lost consciousness and sustained multiple injuries, including a brain injury.

The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant manufacturer alleging that the product was faulty in its design and permitted rock to fall out of the upper access doors in a dangerous and unsafe manner.

The defendant manufacturer of the rock chute denied liability and maintained that the responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries rested with the plaintiff himself and his employer.

The trial lasted eight days. The jury deliberated for approximately five hours. It returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant. The jury determined that the defendant was 71% negligent and that the plaintiff’s employer, who was not a party to the suit was 29% negligent. The jury determined that the plaintiff was not negligent. The jury awarded the sum of $________. The jury verdict was comprised of $________ for non-economic losses, $________ for economic losses and $________ for physical impairment and disfigurement.

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