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Chao v. Rothermel

May 02, 2003

ELAINE L. CHAO, SECRETARY OF LABOR; UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
v.
RANDY ROTHERMEL, JR.; CINDY ROTHERMEL; D & F DEEP MINE COAL COMPANY RANDY ROTHERMEL, JR. AND CINDY ROTHERMEL, INDIVIDUALLY AND D/B/A D&F DEEP MINE COAL COMPANY, APPELLANTS



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA (D.C. No. 02-cv-00202) District Judge: The Honorable James M. Munley

Before: Becker, Chief Judge, Nygaard and Ambro, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nygaard, Circuit Judge.

PRECEDENTIAL

ARGUED January 22, 2003

OPINION OF THE COURT

I.

Appellants Randy Rothermel, Jr. and Cindy Rothermel own and operate the D&F Deep Mine Coal Company, an anthracite coal mine in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. After Randy Rothermel prevented a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspector from conducting respirable dust sampling, the District Court issued a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction prohibiting Rothermel from interfering with the MSHA in carrying out the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 ("the Mine Act"), 30 U.S.C. § 801. Approximately two months later, Randy Rothermel again prevented a MSHA inspector from entering the mine. The MSHA issued a citation and an order, and the Secretary of Labor requested a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction in the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Appellants contend on appeal that the District Court erred by granting this permanent injunction enjoining Appellants from interfering with the Mine Act inspection activities. We review questions of law de novo. Patel v. Ashcroft, 294 F.3d 465, 467 (3d Cir. 2002), and the District Court's grant of a permanent injunction under an abuse of discretion standard. Ameristeel Corp. v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 267 F.3d 264, 267 (3d Cir. 2002). We will affirm.

II.

Appellants' first contention, that the MSHA's conducting bi-monthly respirable dust samplings under the Guidelines is "unsupported by legal authority," is far from the truth. Section 103(a) gives the government ample authority. In Consolidation Coal Co. v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Comm'n, we explicitly interpreted § 103 of the Act, and specifically the "expansive language" of § 103(a). 740 F.2d 271, 272-73 (3d Cir. 1984). *fn1 We stated that,

[a]s part of the overall plan, section 103 of the Act provides that the Secretary should make frequent inspections each year for the purpose of:

'(1) obtaining, utilizing, and disseminating information relating to health and safety conditions, the causes of accidents, and the causes of diseases and physical impairments originating in such mines:

(2) gathering information with respect to mandatory health or safety standards;

(3) determining whether an imminent danger exists; and

(4) determining whether there is compliance with the mandatory health or safety standards.' ...


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