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Eagle Energy, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20485
Nos. No. 00-1073, 240 F.3d 319/(4th Cir., 02/15/2001)

The court dismisses for lack of jurisdiction a mine operator's appeal of both an administrative law judge's (ALJ's) finding that the operator committed a "significant and substantial" violation of a Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act regulation and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission's (the Commission's) refusal to review the ALJ's finding. The ALJ, who held that the operator failed to maintain its underground mine escapeways in a safe condition, determined that the violation was significant and substantial due to extensive water accumulation in areas particularly prone to miners falling during an evacuation. The ALJ also determined, however, that the violation was not an "unwarrantable failure." Both the operator and the Secretary of Labor appealed the ALJ's decision. The Commission dismissed the operator's appeal, but the Commission's review of the "unwarrantable failure" issue is still pending. The operator then appealed to the Fourth Circuit. The court first holds that the Commission's refusal to review the ALJ's "significant and substantial" determination does not render that determination subject to judicial review. Parties may only seek judicial review of a Commission action if the action is a final order, and here, although the Commission only granted review on one issue, the ALJ's entire decision is still before the Commission for review. The court next holds that it lacks jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine because it lacks the power to grant the operator the relief it requests.

Counsel for Petitioner
L. Joseph Ferrara
Jackson & Kelly
1600 Laidley Tower
P.O. Box 553, Charleston WV 25322
(304) 340-1000

Counsel for Respondents
Norman M. Gleichman
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
Riddell Bldg.
1730 K St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 653-5633

Before Williams and Traxler, JJ.