Helen Mining Co. v. Obush, No. 09-3438 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
The U.S. Department of Labor Benefits Review Board affirmed a miner's award of disability benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. 901-945. The Third Circuit denied a petition for review. The claim was not barred by a provision requiring filing within three years after a medical determination of total disability due to pneumoconiosis. Noting the remedial intent of the statute, the court held that denial of benefits in 1989, based on a finding that a doctor's opinion was a misdiagnosis, reset the clock. The hearing officer did not act on a “silent presumption,” but properly evaluated doctors' reports and detailed evidence, including physical exams, pulmonary function and blood gas tests, and analyses of other possible causes, such as smoking, to support his conclusion that the miner had a chronic lung disease arising out of his exposure to coal dust from mine employment.