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Division of Mine Safety and Health (MSH)


The Solicitor's Division of Mine Safety and Health 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:

    • DIVISION OF MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH
      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 Ali A. Beydoun
          • 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

PDF Version - Coeur Alaska, Inc. v. FMSHRC

Coeur Alaska, Inc. v. FMSHRC

brief/Memorandum in Support of Motion

04/07/2017

PDF Version - Hopkins County Coal, LLC v. Secretary of Labor

Hopkins County Coal, LLC v. Secretary of Labor

brief/Memorandum in Support of Motion

11/15/2016

PDF Version - Maxxim Rebuild Co. v. FMSHRC

Maxxim Rebuild Co. v. FMSHRC

Brief/ Memorandum in Support of Motion

10/13/2016

PDF Version - Small Mine Development v. Secretary of Labor

Small Mine Development v. Secretary of Labor

response brief

04/06/2016

PDF Version - Northern Illinois Service Co. v. FMSHIRC

Northern Illinois Service Co. v. FMSHIRC

Response brief

01/20/2016

PDF Version - Ken American Resources, Inc.

Ken American Resources, Inc.

brief

10/28/2015

PDF Version - Rosebud Mining Co., et al. v. MSHA, etc.

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

Response brief

07/10/2015

PDF Version - MSHA v. Hecla Limited

MSHA v. Hecla Limited

petition for discretionary review

05/28/2015

PDF Version - NMA v. Secretary of Labor [Dust Rule]

NMA v. Secretary of Labor [Dust Rule]

brief/ memorandum in support of motion

10/14/2014

PDF Version - American Coal, Co.

American Coal, Co.

brief/ memorandum in support of motion

08/11/2014

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

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

designation of petition for discretionary review as opening brief

06/16/2014

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

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

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

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

response

03/04/2014

PDF Version - Franks v. Emerald Coal Resources, LP, Hoy v. Emerald Coal Resources, LP

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

amicus

02/05/2014

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

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

response

01/13/2014

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

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

response

01/03/2014

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

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

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

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

PDF Version - Lewis-Goetz & Company

Lewis-Goetz & Company

brief/ memorandum in support of motion

09/30/2013

PDF Version - Nally & Hamilton Enterprises

Nally & Hamilton Enterprises

brief in support of motion

09/30/2013

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

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

brief for Secretary of Labor

07/12/2013

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

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

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

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

brief for respondent, the Secretary of Labor

06/03/2013

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

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

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

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

brief for Secretary of Labor

05/06/2013

PDF Version - Small Mine Development

Small Mine Development

brief in support of motion

04/01/2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

brief for respondent

11/02/2012

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

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

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

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

brief for the Secretary of Labor

09/12/2012

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

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

brief for the Secretary of Labor

08/20/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

PDF Version - Jim Walters Resources, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor

Jim Walters Resources, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor

response

04/13/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

brief for the Secretary of Labor

01/04/2012

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

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

PDF Version - Revelation Energy, LLC. v. Secretary of Labor

Revelation Energy, LLC. v. Secretary of Labor

response

10/18/2011

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

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

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

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

response

08/26/2011

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

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

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

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

brief for the Secretary of Labor

07/13/2010

PDF Version - Kennecott Greens Creek Mining Co. v. MSHA

Kennecott Greens Creek Mining Co. v. MSHA

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

12/06/2006

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

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

PDF Version - MSHA v. Jim Walter Resources, Inc.

MSHA v. Jim Walter Resources, Inc.

reply

02/20/2006

PDF Version - MSHA v. Jim Walter Resources, Inc.

MSHA v. Jim Walter Resources, Inc.

brief for the Secretary of Labor

01/23/2006

PDF Version - MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

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

11/28/2005

PDF Version - MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

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

10/13/2005

PDF Version - Cumberland Coal v. MSHA

Cumberland Coal v. MSHA

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

05/31/2005

PDF Version - MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

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

02/28/2005

PDF Version - MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

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

02/28/2005

PDF Version - MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

MSHA v. Twentymile Coal Company

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

01/12/2005

PDF Version - Speed Mining, Inc. v. MSHA

Speed Mining, Inc. v. MSHA

brief for the Secretary of Labor

10/15/2004

PDF Version - MSHA v. Calmat Company of Arizona

MSHA v. Calmat Company of Arizona

brief for the Secretary of Labor

08/25/2004

PDF Version - MSHA v. Martin County Coal Corp.

MSHA v. Martin County Coal Corp.

reply

06/15/2004

PDF Version - MSHA v. Martin County Coal Corp.

MSHA v. Martin County Coal Corp.

response

05/20/2004

PDF Version - MSHA v. Martin County Coal Corp.

MSHA v. Martin County Coal Corp.

opening

04/16/2004

PDF Version - MSHA v. Cannelton Industries, Inc.

MSHA v. Cannelton Industries, Inc.

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

12/19/2003

PDF Version - MSHA v. Cannelton Industries, Inc.

MSHA v. Cannelton Industries, Inc.

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

06/10/2001