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. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.