Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) v. Marfork Coal Company, Inc., Docket Nos. WEVA 2006-788-R, WEVA 2006-789-R, WEVA 2006-790-R (September 27, 2006)

This case involved an appeal to the appellate level of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission of an Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) decision to dismiss three notices of contests filed by the mine operator pursuant to Section 105(d) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act). The issue in the case was whether the mine operator had a right to file a notice of contest under Section 105(d) of the Mine Act if the operator was not seeking an immediate hearing.

The Commission concluded that the ALJ abused his discretion in dismissing the mine operator’s Section 105(d) notice of contest proceeding. The Commission held that the ALJ's decision contained a number of statements that were not supported by the record. The Commission further held that it must accommodate a mine operator’s presumptive right to contest citations and orders under Section 105(d) of the Mine Act, and that initiating discovery and settlement negotiations are valid reasons to bring and maintain a Section 105(d) contest proceeding. The Commission reversed the ALJ's dismissal of the Section 105(d) contest proceedings and reinstated the mine operator's notices of contest.