Harlan-Cumberland Coal Company v. Franklin Farmer, et al
Per Curiam OPINION filed : Petition for review is DENIED, decision not for publication. Julia Smith Gibbons, Circuit Judge; Helene N. White, Circuit Judge and Avern Cohn, U.S. District Judge., EDM
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 13a0399n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
FRANKLIN FARMER; DIRECTOR, OFFICE
OF WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
PROGRAMS, UNITED STATES,
Apr 22, 2013
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
PETITION FOR REVIEW OF A
DECISION AND ORDER OF
THE BENEFITS REVIEW
BEFORE: GIBBONS and WHITE, Circuit Judges; COHN, District Judge.*
PER CURIAM. Harlan-Cumberland Coal Company petitions for review of a decision and
order of the Benefits Review Board affirming an administrative law judge’s award of benefits to
Franklin Farmer under the Black Lung Benefits Act.
In September 2007, Farmer, a former Kentucky coal miner, filed a claim for benefits under
the Black Lung Benefits Act. The district director issued a proposed decision and order awarding
benefits. Following Harlan-Cumberland’s request for a formal hearing, an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) conducted a hearing and awarded benefits. The Benefits Review Board affirmed the ALJ’s
The Honorable Avern Cohn, Senior United States District Judge for the Eastern District of
Michigan, sitting by designation.
Harlan-Cumberland Coal Co. v. Farmer
Harlan-Cumberland now asserts four claims of error: (1) the ALJ erred by disregarding as
unreasoned the medical opinion of Dr. Abdul Dahhan that Farmer’s impairments were not caused
by inhalation of coal dust; (2) the ALJ erred by failing to give additional weight to Dr. Dahhan’s
opinion on the basis that he was Farmer’s treating physician; (3) the ALJ erred by crediting the
opinion of Dr. Donald Rasmussen that Farmer’s impairments were caused in part by his exposure
to coal dust because Dr. Rasmussen failed to assert that his conclusions were “within a reasonable
degree of medical certainty”; and (4) the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which provides
a presumption that certain miners are totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis, is unconstitutional for
the reasons stated in Florida v. United States Department of Health & Human Services, 648 F.3d
1235 (11th Cir. 2011), and the provisions setting forth the presumption are not severable from the
remainder of the Act.
When reviewing a decision of the Benefits Review Board, we consider whether the Board
correctly concluded that substantial evidence supported the ALJ’s decision. Eastover Mining Co.
v. Williams, 338 F.3d 501, 508 n.9 (6th Cir. 2003). “Substantial evidence is defined as relevant
evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Cumberland
River Coal Co. v. Banks, 690 F.3d 477, 483 (6th Cir. 2012) (quotation marks omitted). “A decision
that rests within the realm of rationality is supported by substantial evidence.” Id. (internal
alterations and quotation marks omitted). “We review the Board’s legal conclusions de novo.”
Morrison v. Tenn. Consol. Coal Co., 644 F.3d 473, 477 (6th Cir. 2011).
Substantial evidence supported the ALJ’s decision to afford little weight to the opinion of
Dr. Dahhan and to credit the opinion of Dr. Rasmussen. The ALJ rationally determined that Dr.
Harlan-Cumberland Coal Co. v. Farmer
Dahhan failed to set forth a basis for his conclusion that Farmer’s inhalation of coal dust did not
contribute to his impairments and that the impairments were caused solely by his obesity, sleep
apnea, and diaphragmatic abnormality. See Crockett Colleries, Inc. v. Barrett, 478 F.3d 350, 356
(6th Cir. 2007). Further, the ALJ was not required to afford more probative weight to Dr. Dahhan’s
medical opinion on the basis that he was Farmer’s treating physician. See Eastover Mining Co., 338
F.3d at 509-13. In addition, the ALJ reasonably relied on Dr. Rasmussen’s opinion that inhalation
of coal dust was “clearly a major contributing factor to [Farmer’s] disabling lung disease.” Despite
Harlan-Cumberland’s argument to the contrary, the ALJ was not required to disregard or discount
Dr. Rasmussen’s opinion on the basis that he failed to explicitly state that it was “within a reasonable
degree of medical certainty.”
Finally, Harlan-Cumberland’s argument that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional has
been foreclosed by the Supreme Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business
v. Sebelius, 132 S. Ct. 2566 (2012).
Accordingly, we deny Harlan-Cumberland’s petition for review.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?