United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
Western Oilfields Supply Company, doing business as Rain for Rent, Petitioner
Secretary of Labor and Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, Respondents
September 24, 2019
Petition for Review of a Decision of the Federal Mine Safety
and Health Review Commission
J. Walker argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the
briefs was Tim Boe.
Colbert, Attorney, U.S. Department of Labor, argued the cause
for respondents. With him on the brief was Ali A. Beydoun,
Counsel, Appellate Litigation. John T. Sullivan, Attorney,
Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and Andrew R.
Tardiff, Attorney, U.S. Department of Labor, entered
Before: Garland, Chief Judge, Srinivasan, Circuit Judge, and
Edwards, Senior Circuit Judge.
Garland, Chief Judge
Western Oilfields Supply Co., doing business as Rain for
Rent, mounts ambitious statutory and constitutional
challenges to a $116 fine under the Federal Mine Safety and
Health Act of 1977. We deny the petition for review, taking
the opportunity to clear up some confusion about the rights
the Act grants mine operators.
the Mine Act, the Secretary of Labor is responsible for
setting health and safety standards to govern the
nation's mines and mine operators. 30 U.S.C. §§
803, 811. An "operator" is defined to include
"any owner . . . or other person who operates . . . a .
. . mine or any independent contractor performing services .
. . at such mine." 30 U.S.C. § 802(d). The Act
requires the Secretary to make frequent inspections each
year, without advance notice, id. § 813(a), and
authorizes the Secretary to do so without a warrant, see
Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S. 594, 596 (1981). On the
ground, the Secretary's responsibilities are carried out
by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). 29
U.S.C. § 557a. If an owner or operator violates a health
or safety standard, a MSHA inspector may issue a citation. 30
U.S.C. § 814(a). The cited party may then challenge that
citation before an administrative law judge (ALJ), see
id. § 815(d); before the Federal Mine Safety and
Health Review Commission, in the Commission's discretion,
id. § 823(d)(2); and ultimately before this
court (or the court of appeals for the circuit in which the
violation is alleged to have occurred), id. §
cited party, Rain for Rent, rents pumps for use in mines.
Those pumps require maintenance, which it also provides. On
February 8, 2017, Rain for Rent employee Jaime Tejeda drove a
company truck to a quarry operated by Lhoist North America of
Arizona, Inc., to perform maintenance on a pump that he had
previously installed. After parking the truck, Tejeda went
into the mine office to sign in for the day's work.
same moment, a MSHA inspector was waiting in the parking lot
to meet mine representatives for the second day of an 11-day
routine inspection. Seeing the truck rock back and forth, the
inspector suspected that Tejeda had neglected to set the
parking brake, a violation of a safety standard governing
unattended vehicles. See 30 C.F.R. § 56.14207.
The inspector walked over to the truck and tried to spot the
state of the parking brake through the window. When that
failed, he opened the door. As he suspected, the parking
brake was not set. When Tejeda returned to his truck, he
found the inspector photographing the brake and, after a
brief exchange, was presented with a citation.
for Rent unsuccessfully raised a storm of objections to the
citation in a hearing before an ALJ. The Commission declined
to exercise discretionary review, and the ALJ's decision
therefore became the final decision of the Commission.
See 30 U.S.C. § 823(d)(1); Commission Notice
(J.A. 123). Thereafter, Rain for Rent petitioned for our
court, Rain for Rent has raised only three objections to the
Commission's decision. We consider them below,
"review[ing] the Commission's legal conclusions
de novo, and its findings of fact for substantial
evidence." Sec'y of Labor v. Keystone Coal