Dalton v. Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, No. 13-1243 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Dalton worked in coal mine jobs from 1957 until 1991 and was exposed to substantial coal and rock dust. He developed trouble breathing; he quit his job and was never employed again. In 1999 Dalton sought benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. 901‐45. In 2003, an ALJ awarded benefits, finding that Dalton was a “miner,” that Frontier was the “responsible operator,” and that Dalton had established clinical pneumoconiosis, based on the opinions of pulmonary experts, but could not determine the date of onset of total disability, so Dalton’s benefits began in 1999. The Board vacated, finding that the ALJ had not properly evaluated CT scans. The ALJ again awarded benefits beginning in 1999. In 2007, the case was again remanded. A new ALJ reweighed the evidence and ordered benefits to begin in 1999. Dalton died in 2007. The ALJ denied a motion by Dalton’s children to substitute as claimant. The Board dismissed an appeal and a cross‐appeal. The District Director returned the case to its third ALJ, who allowed the children’s motion, modified the date for commencement of benefits to 1991, and awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses. The Board vacated with respect to the onset date. The Seventh Circuit remanded for entry of the 1991 onset date, rejecting a claim that the children lacked standing. Substantial evidence supported the ALJ’s finding that 1991 marked the time of onset for Dalton’s total disability on account of pneumoconiosis.