Arkansas Coals, Inc. v. Lawson, No. 13-3563 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
The former miner sued in 1992 and an administrative law judge determined that he was not medically qualified for benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. 901 and indicated that Arkansas Coals was not the “responsible operator” required to pay benefits. About 17 years later, the miner filed a second claim. After finding that his medical condition had worsened and that he was now disabled, an ALJ awarded benefits and determined that Arkansas Coals was the responsible operator. The Benefits Review Board and the Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting the company’s finality, waiver, and collateral estoppel arguments; the miner was entitled to bring a second claim under 20 C.F.R. 725.309(d)(4) and the determination that Arkansas Coals was the responsible operator was not “necessary” to the resolution of the initial claim. Substantial evidence supports the determination that Arkansas Coals is the responsible operator.