West Virginia CWP Fund v. Stacy, No. 11-1020 (4th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
This case involved a widow's claim for survivors' benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA), 30 U.S.C. 901-944, as amended by the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Pub. L. No. 111-148, Section 1556, 124 Stat. 119, 260. The PPACA amendments revived Section 422(l) of the BLBA, 30 U.S.C. 932(l), which provided that an eligible survivor of a miner who was receiving benefits at the time of his death was automatically entitled to survivors' benefits without having to establish that the miner's death was due to pneumoconiosis. Relying on an amended section 932(l), the Benefits Review Board, ruled that the miner's widow was entitled to survivors' benefits. On appeal, petitioner raised a variety of constitutional and statutory challenges to the PPACA's restoration provision. The court held that because retroactive application of amended Section 932(l) was hardly arbitrary or irrational, petitioner's substantive due process argument was unavailing. Because amended Section 932(l) merely required petitioner to pay money - and thus did not infringe a specific, identifiable property interest - the Takings Clause was not applicable. The court also held that the miner's widow was derivatively entitled to survivors' benefits pursuant to Section 932(l). Finally, because petitioner made its contention, that 30 U.S.C. 901, 921(a), and 922(a)(2) prevented the miner's widow from receiving automatic survivors' benefits, for the first time at oral argument, the court held that it was waived. Accordingly, the judgment of the Board was affirmed.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on December 21, 2011.