Coal company settles Explosion injury for $1.5 million.

Cataney v. Robinson Coal Co.
$1.5 million settlement

Date of Verdict or Settlement:
Jan. 18, 1999.
Court and Case Number:
C.P. Allegheny No. GD93-18005.
Type of Action:
Tibia Fracture.
Plaintiff(s)’ Attorney(s):
Jon R. Perry and Neil R. Rosen,
Defense Attorney(s):
Dennis Mulvihill, Bruce E. Rende, P.
Brennan Hart and John F. Doherty,
Plaintiff(s)’ Expert(s):
Spencer L. Butterfield, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, Pittsburgh; Bruce Sharpnack, M.D., family practice, Hickory; Margaret Reidy, M.D., Rehabilitative medicine, Pittsburgh; Sharon Leak, PhD., vocational psychologist, Pittsburgh; Frederick G. Clerici, physical therapist, Moon Township; James R. Kenkel, Ph.D., economist, Pittsburgh.
Defense Expert(s):
Paul Lieber, M.D., physiatrist, Pittsburgh; Lawson Bernstein, M.D., psychiatrist, Pittsburgh; Sharon L. heinlein, vocational specialist, Pittsburgh.
James Cataney was a certified U.S. Air jet engine and powerplant mechanic when he was injured as a result of blasting activities conducted by Robinson Coal Co. and Senex Explosives Inc. The blasting was being done near Cataney’s home as part of strip mining operations.

Cataney, who suffered a grade 3B open tibia fracture, pursued claims under absolute strict liability and negligence theories. He sought damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement and a lost wage claim for his permanent and total disability.

Robinson argued Cataney was able to work with very little, if any, wage loss.
After the injury trial started, one juror admitted being a lifelong friend of the principal of Robinson but the court declined to replace the juror with an alternate. A directed verdict on the issue of liability was directed in favor of Cataney.
At the close of evidence, Cataney again requested an alternate juror but the court again refused. The jury returned a verdict in his favor in the amount of $350,000.

Cataney appealed the verdict in part on the trial court’s refusal to strike the biased juror. The state Superior Court reversed and remanded. The state Supreme Court denied Robinson’s request to grant allocatur. The case was settled two days before the retrial for $1.5 million.