Our firm continues to monitor mine subsidence damages to surface properties as a result of underground mining operations. On August 3, 2009, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jack Rainer and Kerry Rainer against Alabama Power Company and Drummond Company. The Complaint, filed in the Circuit Court of Walker County, alleges that the Defendants failed to provide an adequate support structure to the surface properties above their underground room and pillar mine. As a result of the Defendants’ failure, the Rainers’ property was damaged from a phenomenon known as mine subsidence. Mine subsidence is either the sudden or gradual sinking, cracking or settling of surface property as a result of an underground mine collapse.
Because our clients’ property was above and adjacent to the Defendants’ properties, the Defendants had a duty to provide a proper support structure to the Rainers’ property. Otherwise, the removal of rock and coal hundreds of feet below the surface would cause rocks, minerals and actual surface property to cave into the void left from the mining operations. The Defendants also had a duty to not interfere with the use and enjoyment of the Rainers’ property. Over the past year, the Rainers begin to notice the formation of large sinkholes and cracks on the surface. These symptoms are telling signs of mine subsidence and can cause significant devaluation of property and damage existing structures. Unfortunately, mine subsidence cases are not an isolated occurrence in Alabama. High extraction longwall coal mines are prevalent throughout the state and result in substantial property damage. Further, closed room and pillar mines remain as a constant threat to surface properties.
In their Complaint Jack Rainer and Kerry Rainer alleged four causes of action against the Defendants: Subsidence, Nuisance, Trespass, Negligence and Wantonness. In almost every instance of mine subsidence, our lawyers and investigators are unable to venture into the mine and physically view the support structure left behind by the Defendants. Therefore, expert testimony is critical to these cases in demonstrating that mining activities caused the damage on the surface. Rhon Jones and Parker Miller from our firm will be handling this case for the Rainers.