Jones Brothers, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, No. 17-3483 (6th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Tennessee Department of Transportation hired Jones to repair a collapsed portion of a state highway. The company drilled and blasted a pit less than a mile from the highway, extracting thousands of tons of graded solid rock to fill the collapsed bed that previously supported the highway. The Mine Safety and Health Administration imposed $2,940 in civil penalties on Jones for failing to comply with the agency's safety requirements. An ALJ for the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent agency responsible for reviewing the Administration’s actions, 30 U.S.C. 823, upheld the penalties, agreeing that the site was “a coal or other mine” under the Administration’s jurisdiction. The Commission affirmed. The Sixth Circuit vacated because the administrative law judge was an inferior officer of the United States, and was not appointed by the President, a court of law, or the head of a department, as the Appointments Clause of the Constitution (art. II, sect. 2, cl. 2) demands. The ALJ was appointed by the Chief Administrative Law Judge. The court excused Jones’s failure to pursue the argument below.