PIKEVILLE —John C. Kirk, partner of Kirk Law Firm, says that his
law firm has moved into its new 5,000 square foot office on US 23 just
north of Coal Run Village because “thanks to the many clients we
represent, we needed a bigger place and by locating on 23, we will be
also more convenient to our many clients.” Kirk Law Firm has offices
throughout eastern Kentucky and in Lexington and represents parties injured
at work, in vehicle, railroad and other accidents, fire losses, insurance
losses and LTD, social security disability, product injuries, trial litigation
and other matters.
The law firm represents “people,” according to Kirk, and declines to represent companies and corporations. The firm successfully prosecuted one of the largest environmental cases in the nation when it represented 645 Martin County families following a catastrophe that resulted when the bottom of a 27 acre lake collapsed into an abandoned underground mine, releasing 300 million gallons of coal sludge/slurry into streams which carried it into the Big Sandy River, resulting in then governor Paul Patton declaring a state of emergency.
“That is the largest case we have done so far,” Kirk said, “and we’re very proud that we were able to have every single one of our clients compensated for their very substantial losses. My good friend and great Pikeville attorney, the late Mr. Herman Lester, worked with me on these cases” Kirk said. Kirk said he could not comment on details of the settlement.
Five months ago, the firm received a $27 million judgment in the Knott Circuit Court for representing Roberta Jent for injuries received in a vehicle accident near Hindman when her car was involved in a crash with a truck operated by an employee of Murrial-Don Coal Company of Floyd County. The judgment is now final and earlier this month the defendant coal company filed a lawsuit against a London, England insurance company and a London, Kentucky lawyer who represented it in the case demanding that they be held liable for and pay the $27 million judgment, which provides for 12% annual interest.
“No one is claiming that Mrs. Jent is not owed for her life-altering
injuries,” Kirk said. “The company’s lawsuit is only
about who pays her for what has happened to her.”
Two weeks ago, Phillip Wheeler of the Kirk Firm filed a $10 million suit in the Pike Circuit Court for Jason Smith, a 33-year-old Pike County miner, who—the suit alleges—has been rendered so disabled by a crash with a loaded coal truck owned by a Pikeville business, that he must use a wheelchair and have a caregiver.
“Coal truck drivers are mostly good, hard-working men and have a tough job,” Kirk said, adding that “the system is such that, since they are paid by the load for the amount of coal delivered to the terminal, there is an incentive to get there as soon as they can. This, sometimes, results in tragic events.”
Several months ago, it was reported that the Kirk Firm settled a case at trial for $2.5 million for a young Harold woman who had been injured on US 23 near Paintsville when her car was in a crash with a Georgia Pacific truck. “We’re very proud of what we were able to do for Mary Ward,” Kirk said. “Only 22 years old at the time of the crash three years ago, Mary was hit by a speeding truck,” he said.
“We opened our doors in 1971, to coal miners mostly and their families,” Kirk said, “and we are very proud of our record on behalf of working miners and other working men and women for whom we have won work injury and social security cases.”
Three years ago, the Kirk Firm filed cases in the Pike, Floyd, Knott and Martin Circuit Courts for several hundred miners against makers of Respirators or dust masks worn by miners on the theory that the dust masks did not do what they were supposed to do. “It turned out that the dust masks were defective and, if anything, made the mining atmosphere worse and contributed to the respiratory problems of the miners,” Kirk said. “These were not cases against the coal companies, just against the mask makers. Again, justice was done and each of the people we represented got compensated,” he added.
The Kirk Firm, according to magazine reports on its website at kirklawfirm.net, is a state leader in workers’ compensation case results. “That is something we have worked very, very hard to achieve and we continue to work hard to stay there,” Kirk said. “When a person is hurt at work, when a person has lost his or her income, that is when they need legal help in the worse way.”