The Solicitor's Division of Mine Safety and Health (MSH) advises the United States Department of Labor's Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in connection with the development and enforcement of safety and health standards under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, as amended by the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (Mine Act). The purpose of the Mine Act is to protect the safety and health of the Nation's miners. The Mine Act requires the Secretary of Labor or his or her representative to conduct periodic, unannounced safety and health inspections of the Nation's mines. The Mine Act also provides significant rights to miners to participate in ensuring safe and healthful mines. The Secretary has authority to compel immediate compliance with the Act and safety and health standards through the use of citations, orders, civil penalties, and other sanctions. Attorneys in the Division work in three practice areas: (1) standards and legal advice, (2) trial litigation, and (3) appellate litigation.

Accomplishments

(1) Standards and legal advice

Provided extensive legal advice and drafting assistance in MSHA's rulemakings, such as:

(2) Trial litigation

  • Worked with regional office attorneys in Los Angeles, CA to obtain injunctive relief against a mine operator in order to reinstate a miner fired for exercising rights under the Mine Act (C.R. Meyer and Sons)
  • Won a federal district court case against a mine operator for $2.3 million in delinquent civil penalties (D&C Mining)
  • Worked with regional office attorneys in Dallas, TX in a case before an administrative law judge involving miners locked-out by their employer to exercise their rights to walk around with MSHA inspectors; the administrative law judge ruled in MSHA's favor (Sherwin Alumina v. Sec'y of Labor opinion)
  • Developed a joint national and regional office task force to litigate the first pattern of violations case before an administrative law judge (Brody Mining)

(3) Appellate litigation

  • Persuaded the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold MSHA's respirable coal mine dust rule ("Lowering Miners' Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust, Including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors") to help reduce "black lung" disease (National Min. Ass'n v. Sec'y of Labor opinion)
  • Won an interesting case concerning the meaning of the term "fire" in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the court followed MSHA"s interpretation and did not limit the word "fire" to visible flame only (American Coal v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Comm'n opinion)
  • Persuaded the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that an MSHA district manager's review of underground coal mine plans should be viewed deferentially (Prairie State Generating v. Sec'y of Labor opinion)
  • Successfully convinced the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold MSHA's imposition of personal liability on agents of limited liability companies (LLCs) (Sumpter v. Sec'y of Labor opinion, brief)

What We Do

The Division's attorneys represent the Secretary and MSHA in the courtroom before administrative law judges and in appellate courts. The Division's attorneys also prepare standards and regulations, interpretations, and opinions pertaining to the Mine Act. In addition, the Division's attorneys review potential criminal cases against mine operators and agents for submission to the United States Department of Justice or the United States Attorney and assist in prosecutions as appropriate.

The Division's attorneys:

  • In coordination with MSHA personnel, participate in the rulemaking process by drafting and editing new and revised standards and regulations to assure compliance with the Mine Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, such as MSHA's new rule on respirable coal mine dust to stop the scourge of "black lung" disease.
  • Go to trial in cases that involve policy issues or other issues of nationwide significance before administrative law judges and federal courts, including:
    • Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission's Office of Administrative Law Judges
    • United States Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges
    • United States District Courts
  • Argue on appeal in cases that arise from MSHA's rulemaking or enforcement actions before appellate courts, including:
    • United States Courts of Appeals
    • Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
  • Review and analyze case files, evaluate evidence, conduct discovery, prepare witnesses, and examine and cross-examine witnesses and present documentary evidence at trial
  • File appellate briefs and present oral arguments in cases on appeal

Division attorneys may be assigned to one practice area (standards and legal advice, trial litigation, or appellate litigation) or may be assigned to multiple practice areas as needed.

DOL Agency Supported

Contact Information

201 12th St S
Suite 401
Arlington, VA 22202-5414

202-693-9333
202-693-9392 (fax)

Associate Solicitor
April Nelson

Deputy Associate Solicitor
Thomas A. Paige

Counsel for Appellate Litigation
Archith Ramkumar

Counsel for Standards and Legal Advice
Brad J. Mantel

Counsel for Trial Litigation
Jason Grover

Management and Program Analyst
M. Jeannie Tideman

Published Legal Briefs

Case Name Brief Type File Date

Secretary of Labor obo Alvaro Saldivar v. Grimes Rock, Inc.

Response Brief

06/01/2021

Northshore Mining, Inc. v. Sec. of Labor

Response Brief

05/01/2021

Secretary of Labor v. Rockwell Mining, LLC

Response Brief

04/13/2021

Secretary of Labor v. M-Class

Misc.

03/16/2021

Secretary of Labor v. M-Class

Reply Brief

02/10/2021

KenAmerican Resources v. Secretary of Labor

Response Brief

01/20/2021

Secretary of Labor v. M-Class

Opening Brief

12/14/2020

Monongalia County Coal Company, et al. v. MSHR, MSHA, Sec'y of Labor

Brief

09/03/2019

Coeur Alaska, Inc. v. FMSHRC

brief/Memorandum in Support of Motion

04/07/2017

Hopkins County Coal, LLC v. Secretary of Labor

brief/Memorandum in Support of Motion

11/15/2016

Maxxim Rebuild Co. v. FMSHRC

Brief/ Memorandum in Support of Motion

10/13/2016

Small Mine Development v. Secretary of Labor

response brief

04/06/2016

Northern Illinois Service Co. v. FMSHIRC

Response brief

01/20/2016

Ken American Resources, Inc.

brief

10/28/2015

Rosebud Mining Co., et al. v. MSHA, etc.

Response brief

07/10/2015

MSHA v. Hecla Limited

petition for discretionary review

05/28/2015

NMA v. Secretary of Labor [Dust Rule]

brief/ memorandum in support of motion

10/14/2014

American Coal, Co.

brief/ memorandum in support of motion

08/11/2014

Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration v. Big Ridge

designation of petition for discretionary review as opening brief

06/16/2014

Sumpter and Hartzell, employed by Oak Grove Resources, LLC. v. Secretary of Labor, MSHA, and Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission

brief for respondent, the Secretary of Labor, MSHA

03/28/2014

Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration v. Maxxim Rebuild Company, LLC.

response

03/04/2014

Franks v. Emerald Coal Resources, LP, Hoy v. Emerald Coal Resources, LP

amicus

02/05/2014

Hopkins County Coal, LLC v. Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration

response

01/13/2014

Warior Coal, LLC. v. Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration

response

01/03/2014

Black Beauty Coal Company v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor

brief for the respondent the Secretary of Labor, MSHA

10/25/2013

KenAmerican Resources, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, and Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission

brief for the respondent, the Secretary of Labor

10/15/2013

Lewis-Goetz & Company

brief/ memorandum in support of motion

09/30/2013

Nally & Hamilton Enterprises

brief in support of motion

09/30/2013

Wade Sand and Gravel Co., Inc, v. Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration

brief for Secretary of Labor

07/12/2013

Cobra Natural Resources, LLC. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission and Secretary of Labor

brief on petition for review of a decision of the Federal MSH Review Commission

07/08/2013

Dickenson-Russell Coal Company v. Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration

brief for respondent, the Secretary of Labor

06/03/2013

Hopkins County Coal, LLC. v. Secretary of Labor and Federal Mine Safety and Health Commission

brief for respondent, the Secretary of Labor

06/03/2013

Shamokin Filler Company, Inc. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor

brief for Secretary of Labor

05/06/2013

Small Mine Development

brief in support of motion

04/01/2013

Mach Mining, LLC. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor

brief for respondent, the Secretary of Labor

03/06/2013

Oak Grove Resources, Llc. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor

brief for the Secretary of Labor

11/05/2012

Cumberland River Coal Company v. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Commission, The Secretary of Labor, and Howard

brief for respondent

11/02/2012

Big Ridge, Inc., Peabody Midwest Mining, Llc., and Bickett v. Federal Mine Safety And Health Review Commision, and Secretary of Labor

brief for respondent

10/24/2012

Big Ridge, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, and Mine Safety And Health Administration

brief for the Secretary of Labor

09/12/2012

Northshore Mining Company v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor

brief for the Secretary of Labor

08/20/2012

Cordero Mining, LLC. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor, on behalf of Clapp

brief for the Secretary of Labor

05/29/2012

Cumberland Coal Resources LP. v. Federal Mine Safety And Health Review Commision, and Secretary of Labor

brief for the Secretary of Labor

05/24/2012

Black Beauty Coal Company v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor

brief for the Secretary of Labor

05/14/2012

Jim Walters Resources, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor

response

04/13/2012

Lone Mountain Processing, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, and Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission

brief for the Secretary of Labor

03/26/2012

Pattison Sand Company, LLC. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor

brief for the Secretary of Labor

03/06/2012

Ames Construction, Inc. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor

brief for the Secretary of Labor

01/04/2012

Vulcan Construction Materials, LP. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor on behalf of Dunne

brief for respondent, the Secretary of Labor

11/22/2011

Revelation Energy, LLC. v. Secretary of Labor

response

10/18/2011

Mainline Rock and Ballast, Inc. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor

brief for respondent Secretary of Labor

09/14/2011

Tilden Mining Company, LC v. Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration

response

08/26/2011

Wolf Run Mining Company v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Secretary of Labor

brief for the Secretary of Labor

05/02/2011

Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety And Health Administration v. Simola, employed by United Taconite, LLC.

brief for the Secretary of Labor

07/13/2010

Kennecott Greens Creek Mining Co. v. MSHA

on petition for review of final standards of the Secretary of Labor

12/06/2006

MSHA and United Mine Workers of America v. Wolf Run Mining Company, Inc.

on appeal of a preliminary injunction of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia

04/25/2006

MSHA v. Jim Walter Resources, Inc.

reply

02/20/2006

MSHA v. Jim Walter Resources, Inc.

brief for the Secretary of Labor

01/23/2006

MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

on petition for review of a decision of the Federal MSH Review Commission, reply

11/28/2005

MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

on petition for review of a decision of the Federal MSH Review Commission

10/13/2005

Cumberland Coal v. MSHA

on petition for review of a decision of the Federal MSH Review Commission

05/31/2005

MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

on petition for review of a decision of the Federal MSH Review Commission, reply

02/28/2005

MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

on petition for review of a decision of the Federal MSH Review Commission, response

02/28/2005

MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

on petition for review of a decision of the Federal MSH Review Commission

01/12/2005

Speed Mining, Inc. v. MSHA

brief for the Secretary of Labor

10/15/2004

MSHA v. Calmat Company of Arizona

brief for the Secretary of Labor

08/25/2004

MSHA v. Martin County Coal Corp.

reply

06/15/2004

MSHA v. Martin County Coal Corp.

response

05/20/2004

MSHA v. Martin County Coal Corp.

opening

04/16/2004

MSHA v. Cannelton Industries, Inc.

on petition for review of a decision of the Federal MSH Review Commission, reply

12/19/2003

MSHA v. Cannelton Industries, Inc.

on petition for review of a decision of the Federal MSH Review Commission

06/10/2001