Pauley v. BethEnergy Mines, Inc.

PETITIONER: Pauley
RESPONDENT: BethEnergy Mines, Inc.
LOCATION: Residence of Daniel and Lyrissa Touby

DOCKET NO.: 89-1714
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1990-1991)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 501 US 680 (1991)
ARGUED: Feb 20, 1991
DECIDED: Jun 24, 1991

ADVOCATES:
Christopher J. Wright - on behalf of the Respondent Director, OWCP, U.S. Department of Labor
Julian N. Henriques, Jr. - on behalf of the Petitioners Harriet Pauley, et al
Mark E. Solomons - on behalf of the Respondents Bethenergy Mines, et al

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Pauley v. BethEnergy Mines, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 20, 1991 in Pauley v. BethEnergy Mines, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 24, 1991 in Pauley v. BethEnergy Mines, Inc.

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 89-1714, Pauley versus Bethenergy Mines and companion cases will be announced by Justice Blackmun.

Harry A. Blackmun:

This rather complicated litigation concerns the Federal Black Lung Benefits Program created to provide compensation for minors disabled due to pneumoconiosis arising out of coal mine employment.

We have before us three cases, as the Chief Justice indicated, one from the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and two from the Fourth Circuit.

They center on regulations issued by the Secretary of Labor under a congressional directive that the regulations "shall not be more restrictive than" regulations issued by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare when that department administered the program earlier.

There are statutory presumptions of eligibility and provisions allowing the agency to rebut the presumption by four methods.

Under the earlier HEW regulations, there were only two methods.

And the issue, therefore, is whether the Department of Labor regulations are more restrictive.

The Third Circuit ruled that they were not.

The Fourth Circuit ruled that they were.

So, our task was to resolve the conflict.

We hold today that the rebuttal provisions are not more restrictive and thus, affirm the judgment of the Third Circuit.

We reverse the judgment of the Fourth Circuit and remand those cases.

Justice Scalia has filed a dissenting opinion.

Justice Kennedy took no part in the consideration or decision of the cases.