On May 12, 2011, the plaintiff, John Barrow IV, age 58, was a coal mine forklift operator. Barrow walked into a coal mine near Equality, Ill., when a hydraulic hose on the ground caused him to fall and land on his back. The defendant in this case, Temper Fabricators, a fabrication contractor working at the mine, had left several steel-reinforced hydraulic hoses lying across a walkway just inside the entrance to the mine’s main warehouse.
Barrow apparently did not see the hoses when he entered the mine after walking in from the outdoor sunlight. He stepped on one of the hoses, which then rolled out from under his foot. While falling, he sustained lower back injuries that required spinal fusion surgery and left him with ongoing pain, disability and severe sexual dysfunction.
Barrow’s wife, Kimberlee, claimed loss of consortium. The Barrows asserted that the Temper Fabricator’s employees were at fault for choosing not to post any barricades or warning flags before leaving the hoses unattended. The Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) regulations required all safety hazards to be barricaded or flagged off. Employees of contractors were subject to the same MSHA safety regulations as employees of mine owners.