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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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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