368 F.3d 385 (4th Cir. 2004), 02-2199, Pittston Co. v. United States

Docket Nº:02-2199, 02-2200, 03-1351.
Citation:368 F.3d 385
Party Name:THE PITTSTON COMPANY; Buffalo Mining Company; Clinchfield Coal Company; Eastern Coal Corporation; Elkay Mining Company; Jewell Ridge Coal Corporation; Kentland-Elkhorn Coal Corporation; Meadow River Coal Company; Pittston Coal Group; Ranger Fuel Corporation, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. UNITED STATES of America, Defendant & Third Party Plaintiff-Appel
Case Date:May 18, 2004
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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368 F.3d 385 (4th Cir. 2004)

THE PITTSTON COMPANY; Buffalo Mining Company; Clinchfield Coal Company; Eastern Coal Corporation; Elkay Mining Company; Jewell Ridge Coal Corporation; Kentland-Elkhorn Coal Corporation; Meadow River Coal Company; Pittston Coal Group; Ranger Fuel Corporation, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

UNITED STATES of America, Defendant & Third Party Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Michael H. Holland, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; United Mine Workers Of America Combined Benefit Plan; Elliot A. Segal, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; William P. Hobgood, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Marty D. Hudson, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Thomas O.S. Rand, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Gail R. Wilensky, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Carl E. Van Horn, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Carlton R. Sickles, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund, Third Party Defendants-Appellees,

The Bituminous Coal Operators' Association, Incorporated, Intervenor,

and

International Union, United Mine Workers of America, Party in Interest.

The Pittston Company; Buffalo Mining Company; Clinchfield Coal Company; Eastern Coal Corporation; Elkay Mining Company; Jewell Ridge Coal Corporation; Kentland-Elkhorn Coal Corporation; Meadow River Coal Company; Pittston Coal Group; Ranger Fuel Corporation, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

United States of America, Defendant & Third Party Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Michael H. Holland, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; United Mine Workers Of America Combined Benefit Plan; Elliot A. Segal, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; William P. Hobgood, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Marty D. Hudson, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Thomas O.S. Rand, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Gail R. Wilensky, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; CARL E. VAN HORN, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Carlton R. Sickles, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund, Third Party Defendants-Appellees,

The Bituminous Coal Operators' Association, Incorporated, Intervenor,

and

International Union, United Mine Workers of America, Party in Interest.

The Pittston Company; Buffalo Mining Company; Clinchfield Coal Company; Eastern Coal Corporation; Elkay Mining Company; Jewell Ridge Coal Corporation; Kentland-Elkhorn Coal Corporation; Meadow River Coal Company; Pittston Coal Group; Ranger Fuel Corporation, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

United States of America, Defendant & Third Party Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Michael H. Holland, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; United Mine Workers Of America Combined Benefit Plan; Elliot A. Segal, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; William P. Hobgood, 4 Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Marty D. Hudson, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Thomas O.S. Rand, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Gail R. Wilensky, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Carl E. Van Horn, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Carlton R. Sickles, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund, Third Party Defendants-Appellees,

and

The Bituminous Coal Operators' Association, Incorporated; International Union, United Mine Workers Of America, Parties in Interest.

The Pittston Company; Buffalo Mining Company; Clinchfield Coal Company; Eastern Coal Corporation; Elkay Mining Company; Jewell Ridge Coal Corporation; Kentland-Elkhorn Coal Corporation; Meadow River Coal Company; Pittston Coal Group; Ranger Fuel Corporation, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

United States of America, Defendant & Third Party Plaintiff-Appellee,

Michael H. Holland, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; United Mine Workers Of America Combined Benefit Plan; Elliot A. Segal, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; William P. Hobgood, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Marty D. Hudson, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Thomas O.S. Rand, Trustee of the 6 United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Gail R. Wilensky, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Carl E. Van Horn, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund; Carlton R. Sickles, Trustee of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund, Third Party Defendants-Appellees,

and

The Bituminous Coal Operators' Association, Incorporated; International Union, United Mine Workers Of America, Parties in Interest.

Nos. 02-2199, 02-2200, 03-1351.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

May 18, 2004

Argued: Jan. 21, 2004.

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ARGUED:

Wade Wallihan Massie, Penn, Stuart & Eskridge, Abingdon, Virginia, for Appellants.

Ara B. Gershengorn, Appellate Staff, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Federal Appellee; Howard Robert Rubin, Shea & Gardner, Washington, D.C., for Appellees Trustees of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund and the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Plan.

ON BRIEF:

Stephen M. Hodges, Penn, Stuart & Eskridge, Abingdon, Virginia; Gregory B. Robertson, Hunton & Williams, Richmond, Virginia; A.E. Dick Howard, Charlottesville, Virginia, for Appellants.

Robert D. McCallum, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, Paul J. McNulty, United States Attorney, Mark B. Stern, Appellate Staff, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Federal Appellee. D. Eugene Webb, Jr., Richard F. Hawkins, III, Troutman Sanders, L.L.P., Richmond, Virginia; Stephen J. Pollak, John Townsend Rich, Jeffrey D. Fox, Shea & Gardner, Washington, D.C., for Appellees Trustees of the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund and the United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Plan. Peter Buscemi, Stanley F. Lechner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, L.L.P., Washington, D.C., for Intervenor.

Before WILKINS, Chief Judge, and NIEMEYER and TRAXLER, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge NIEMEYER wrote the opinion, in which Judge TRAXLER joined. Chief Judge WILKINS wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

OPINION

NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge:

These appeals challenge the constitutionality of the Coal Industry Retiree Health Benefits Act of 1992 (the "Coal Act"), 26 U.S.C. §§ 9701-9722. In response to severe financial difficulties that were undermining the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreements ("NBCWAs")--collective bargaining agreements between the Bituminous Coal Operators' Association and the United Mine Workers of America, promising healthcare benefits to active and retired coal miners--Congress enacted the Coal Act to preserve benefits promised by the NBCWAs to retired coal miners. The

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Coal Act requires coal operators who had signed NBCWAs over the years to pay premiums into a trust fund in an amount related to the number of retired coal miners they have employed, thereby creating a common trust fund from which the promised healthcare benefits can be paid.

In Eastern Enterprises v. Apfel, 524 U.S. 498, 118 S.Ct. 2131, 141 L.Ed.2d 451 (1998), the Supreme Court held that the Coal Act was unconstitutional insofar as it imposed severe retroactive liability on a coal company that had not signed a labor agreement since 1964.

In challenging the constitutionality of the Coal Act and its application following the decision in Eastern Enterprises, the Pittston Company contends in this case: (1) that the Coal Act unconstitutionally violates nondelegation and separation of powers principles by placing governmental powers in the hands of the trustees of the common trust fund, a private entity created by the Coal Act; (2) that the Coal Act is nonseverable and therefore the decision in Eastern Enterprises invalidating application of the Coal Act to certain coal operators invalidates it as to all coal operators; and (3) the Social Security Commissioner's reassignment of beneficiaries to the Pittston Company after the decision in Eastern Enterprises was accomplished through an impermissible interpretation of the Coal Act's language, resulting in larger premiums for the Pittston Company. The Pittston Company has also raised two administrative issues: it has urged that this court hold in abeyance review of the district court's ruling that the Coal Act does not violate the Due Process Clause or the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, pending Supreme Court review of our decision in A.T. Massey Coal Co. v. Massanari, 305 F.3d 226 (4th Cir. 2002); and it has assigned as an abuse of discretion the district court's refusal to unseal confidential documents produced to the Pittston Company by the Bituminous Coal Operators' Association and made part of the record in this case.

The district court rejected Pittston's substantive arguments and denied its motion to unseal the confidential documents. For the reasons that follow, we deny as moot the...

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