Peabody Coal Company v. U.S. Department of Labor, Offi, et al
OPINION filed : We DENY the petition for review, decision not for publication. Martha Craig Daughtrey, Circuit Judge; Deborah L. Cook, Circuit Judge and Helene N. White, AUTHORING Circuit Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION
File Name: 14a0645n.06
Aug 18, 2014
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
UNITED STATES COURTS OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
PEABODY COAL COMPANY,
DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF WORKERS’
COMPENSATION PROGRAMS, UNITED
STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR,
EVA ELIZABETH HILL,
ON PETITION FOR REVIEW
OF AN ORDER OF THE
BENEFITS REVIEW BOARD,
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
BEFORE: DAUGHTREY, COOK, and WHITE, Circuit Judges.
HELENE N. WHITE, Circuit Judge. Peabody Coal Company (Peabody) petitions for
review of the Benefits Review Board’s (Board) grant of Petitioner Eva Hill’s (Hill) second claim
for survivor benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA), 30 U.S.C. §§ 901–44, as
amended by § 1556 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Pub. L. No. 111–
148, § 1556, 124 Stat. 119 (2010). We deny the petition.
Hill is the widow of Arthur Hill, who passed away in May 2000 after working as a miner
for forty-one years. Hill first filed a claim for survivor benefits on June 19, 2000. The Board
denied her claim for failure to show that her husband died “due to” pneumoconiosis, as then
required under the BLBA. This court denied her petition for review in 2004.
Ham v. Sterling
In 2010, Congress enacted the ACA, § 1556, which included a provision reinstating
30 U.S.C. § 932(l) of the BLBA under which the eligible survivor of a miner who was
determined eligible for benefits at the time of his death is automatically entitled to receive
benefits, and need not prove that the miner died “due to” pneumoconiosis.
amendments to the BLBA apply to “claims filed . . . . after January 1, 2005, that are pending on
or after [March 23, 2010].” Pub. L. No. 111–148, §1556(c). In January 2011, after the ACA
amendments took effect, Hill filed a second, or “subsequent,” claim for survivor benefits; the
claim was granted, and the Board affirmed.
On appeal, Peabody challenges the Board’s determination that the ACA amendments to
the BLBA apply to subsequent claims filed by survivors after the denial of a prior claim.
Construing § 1556 to apply to survivors’ subsequent claims, Peabody argues, reopens prior final
decisions denying benefits and thereby violates the separation of powers, res judicata principles,
and due process. This court’s decision in Consolidation Coal Co. v. Maynes, 739 F.3d 323, 325
(6th Cir. 2014), filed after briefing concluded, disposes of Peabody’s arguments.
Consolidation Coal, as here, the Board had denied a survivor’s original claim for benefits on the
ground that she could not demonstrate that her husband died “due to” pneumoconiosis. After
enactment of the ACA, the survivor filed a subsequent claim for benefits under the reinstated
§ 932(l), which the Board granted. See id. at 326. On appeal, the coal company raised, and this
court rejected, the same res judicata and separation-of-powers arguments Peabody raises here.
See id. at 329 (“[T]he Board’s decision to award benefits in response to [the survivor’s]
subsequent claim did nothing to alter, undermine, disturb or overturn the Board’s prior denial of
her 2003 claim; nor does it challenge this Court’s affirmance of that decision.”). In the instant
case, Peabody raises the additional argument that the Board’s failure to give preclusive effect to
Ham v. Sterling
its denial of the survivor’s original claim for benefits violates due process. But our conclusion
that the Board’s decision does not offend principles of finality disposes of that argument too.
See RAG Am. Coal Co. v. Office of Workers’ Comp. Programs, 576 F.3d 418, 428 n.6 (7th Cir.
2009) (dismissing a similar due-process argument, stating “RAG’s claim that the refusal to apply
ordinary principles of finality denies it due process of law is nothing more than a variation of its
res judicata argument which we have already addressed”).
Accordingly, we DENY the 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?