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Cement company voluntarily pleads guilty to safety, health violations

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Company agrees to pay $400,000 fine and repair and/or upgrade elevators and escalators to meet safety standards

 LOUISVILLE – Kosmos Cement Company d/b/a Cemex voluntarily pleaded guilty today in United States District Court, and was sentenced by Magistrate Judge Colin H. Lindsay, to pay an agreed upon $400,000 fine, with $200,000 payable immediately, for its willful failure to comply with a mandatory health or safety standard, which is a violation of The Mine Safety and Health Act, announced United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.

“This is one of the worst cases of negligence on the part of a company,” stated United States Attorney John Kuhn. “Improper maintenance resulted in an employee’s death. This agreement will ensure the proper maintenance of the cement facility and safety for the employees through mandatory on-sight inspections and a written Maintenance Control Program,” concluded U.S. Attorney Kuhn.

According to the plea agreement, Kosmos Cement Company, d/b/a Cemex agreed to pay a fine of $400,000 with $200,000 due immediately and the balance due at the end of three years’ time if the company does not complete agreed upon repairs.  The defendant agrees that all elevators will be constructed and/or upgraded to meet safety code; that doors of all automatic elevators shall be equipped with interlocking switches to prevent a door from opening when the elevator is not at a landing; that a written Maintenance Control Program shall be in place to achieve safe and reliable operation of the elevators; and that on-site inspection of elevators by the Kentucky Department of Housing And Construction be permitted in accordance with applicable state law. If the company makes the agreed upon repairs, and otherwise follows the term of the plea agreement, payment of the remaining $200,000 portion of the agreed upon settlement will be dispensed with.

The United States agreed to forego prosecution of agents and employees of the defendant for the facts which form the basis of this prosecution as described in the Information and the factual basis in the Plea Agreement.

In court today, agents of the company admitted that between March 6, 2012, and February 21, 2014, Kosmos Cement Company, d/b/a Cemex, Inc., through its agents and employees, was aware of defects in the Old Finish Mill Elevator, at its Kosmosdale, Kentucky facility; namely that the elevator was defective and in need of repair at the time of the death of F.M. and that the company which serviced the elevators at the plant had made repeated offers to renovate the elevator prior to the death. These repairs had not occurred. This was in violation of federal regulations of The Mine and Safety Act requiring that “Defects on any equipment, machinery (or) tools that affect safety shall be corrected in a timely manner to prevent the creation of hazards to others.”

This plea agreement arises from a single charge in an Information taken on March 25, 2016. According to the Information, on or about February 21, 2014, F. M., a contract employee at the Kosmosdale cement production facility, operated by Kosmos Cement Company, d/b/a Cemex, fell to his death in the Old Finish Mill, owing to a defect on the elevator at that facility, which permitted the outer door of said elevator to be opened without the elevator itself actually being present.

Cemex is a Mexican Corporation with U.S. headquarters in Houston, Texas. Cemex operates  cement plants throughout the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico, including, as part of a partnership, Kosmos Cement Company, located at 15301 Dixie Highway in Louisville. Throughout the period of time of the negligence and up to and including the date of the contract employee’s death, the plant was operated under the name CEMEX.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ream and was investigated by the Department of Labor, Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA).