7th Circuit declines to overturn mine’s fine for safety violation

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the petition for judicial review filed by a company that runs a southern Indiana mine, finding sufficient evidence supports fining the company for violating federal regulation requiring a protective mound along an elevated roadway.

Peabody Midwest Mining LLC asked the 7th Circuit to take a look at the order issued by an administrative law judge that fined the company $4,329. Inspectors went to Peabody’s Gibson County mine and found that “berms” – the protective mounds – were too low along certain roadways. At a follow-up visit, an inspector found no berms or inadequate berms along a “bench” – a ledge cut into the side of the pit. The ledge was created to move a dragline, a massive piece of excavating equipment.

The inspector cited the mine, concluding the berm violation was significant and substantial because the lack of a berm could result in a permanently disabling injury. During the move of the dragline, other vehicles traveled around the dragline, either moving the berm to allow the dragline to pass or smoothing out the land where the dragline had passed and rebuilding the berm. The concern was these vehicles were too close to an edge of the mine without a protective mound.

An administrative law judge upheld the decision, finding the bench to be a roadway even while the dragline was moving because other rubber-tired vehicles used the path. She also determined the remaining berms were not high enough and fined the company. Peabody petitioned for review by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, which sent the case back for further review to the ALJ. She again upheld her decision and the commission declined to review her order again.

The 7th Circuit also declined Tuesday to review the matter. The judges determined that substantial evidence supports the commission’s determination that the continuous use of the bench by service or haulage trucks left unchanged the status of the bench as a roadway, even during the dragline move. Peabody claimed the bench did not qualify as a roadway during the dragline’s move. The judges also found evidence to credit ALJ’s conclusion that the mine violated regulations by failing to maintain a berm on two-tenths of a mile of the bench, citing the testimony of the inspector.

The case is Peabody Midwest Mining LLC, formerly doing business as Black Beauty Coal Co. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, 13-1659.



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues