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 Post subject: Widow of dead miner starts lawsuit
PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:31 am 
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Location: From Schuylkill County, PA living in Phoenix, AZ
Widow of dead miner starts lawsuit

BY PETER E. BORTNER
STAFF WRITER
POTTSVILLE REPUBLICAN & HERALD
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The widow of the Donaldson man killed in an October 2006 Tremont Township mining accident started a lawsuit Tuesday in Schuylkill County Court against numerous miners, companies and government officials in an attempt to hold them responsible for his death.

Dorothy Reightler filed the lawsuit against R&D Mine Coal Co. Inc., the mine where Dale E. Reightler, 43, died Oct. 23, 2006. She filed the lawsuit both as an individual and as administratrix of her husband’s estate.

Also named as defendants were R&D Mining Partners, individuals allegedly comprising that partnership, the U.S. Department of Labor, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, U.S. and Pennsylvania Attorneys General Michael B. Mukasey and Tom Corbett and several other government officials.

Instead of starting the lawsuit with a complaint, Dorothy Reightler filed a praecipe for writ of summons, a document informing each defendant that a lawsuit has been started against him.

The praecipe gave no details about the claims against any of the defendants, and Richard Shenkan, New Castle, the attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Dorothy Reightler, was unavailable for comment Tuesday on the case.

Investigators allege that Dale Reightler died after explosives were detonated approximately 2,000 feet underground in the mine located off Molleystown Road about a mile from Joliett. County Deputy Coroner Lawrence Neff pronounced Reightler dead at the scene.

A state grand jury indicted in April David P. Zimmerman, 52, and Steven D. Zimmerman, 32, both of Pine Grove, and a third man, Jeffrey T. Klinger, 42, of Tremont, on charges stemming from Reightler’s death. The Zimmermans also are defendants in Dorothy Reightler’s lawsuit.

Methane accumulated in the mine and caused the explosion, according to the grand jury. Inadequate ventilation, failure to conduct pre-shift mine inspections, failure to follow proper blasting procedures and failure to monitor methane levels properly allowed the accumulation to occur, according to the grand jury.

David Zimmerman, one of the mine owners, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, obstructing the administration of law, causing a catastrophe, risking a catastrophe, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, conspiracy and violations of the Anthracite Mining Act.

Klinger is charged with involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, causing a catastrophe, risking a catastrophe and violations of the Anthracite Mining Act.

Steven Zimmerman, a mine foreman and David Zimmerman’s son, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, obstructing the administration of law, causing or risking a catastrophe, violations of the Anthracite Mining Act and conspiracy.

Judge Jacqueline L. Russell is considering requests by David Zimmerman and Klinger to dismiss charges against them.

Other defendants against whom Dorothy Reightler filed her lawsuit include government officials William Ponceroff, John Hanger, Paul Hummell, Troy Wolfgang, Terry Wolfgang and Steven Geist; several men alleged to be partners in R&D, including Richard Boyer, Craig Deeter, Harold Schnoke and William Hoy; and Dawn Himmelberger, administratrix of the Estate of David S. Himmelberger.

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