Marmon Coal Co. v. Dir. Office of Workers Comp. Programs, U.S. Dep't of Labor, No. 12-3388 (3d Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
After leaving coal mining, Eckman sought benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. 901, in 1985. An ALJ awarded benefits in 1993; the Benefits Review Board affirmed the decision. Marmon paid benefits to Eckman until his 2002 death; his widow, Ethel, sought benefits as a dependent survivor. An ALJ denied the claim in 2005, finding that although Eckman had pneumoconiosis, Ethel failed to prove that his death was due to the disease. The Board affirmed. After Congress enacted the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 124 Stat. 119, and amended the BLBA, Ethel filed a new claim. A Department of Labor district director awarded benefits. An ALJ upheld the award, finding that Ethel satisfied the familial relationship and dependency criteria for survivors under the BLBA and that, based on Eckman’s lifetime disability award and the filing date of Ethel’s claim, Ethel was entitled to benefits under section 932(l), as amended by the ACA. The Board affirmed. The Third Circuit denied the coal company’s petition for review, noting that in Ethel’s second claim, the cause of death was not at issue, her entitlement to benefits turned primarily on an administrative fact: whether her husband had been awarded benefits.