Kleppe v. Delta Mining, Inc, No. 74-521

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBURGER
Citation96 S.Ct. 816,46 L.Ed.2d 591,423 U.S. 403
Decision Date26 January 1976
Docket NumberNo. 74-521
PartiesThomas S. KLEPPE, Secretary of the Interior, Petitioner, v. DELTA MINING, INC., et al

423 U.S. 403
96 S.Ct. 816
46 L.Ed.2d 591
Thomas S. KLEPPE, Secretary of the Interior, Petitioner,

v.

DELTA MINING, INC., et al.

No. 74-521.
Argued Oct. 6, 1975.
Decided Jan. 26, 1976.
Syllabus

Section 109(a)(1) of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 requires the Secretary of the Interior, in determining the amount of the civil penalty against a coal mine operator for violations of the Act, to consider the history of previous violations, the appropriateness of the penalty to the size of the business, whether the operator was negligent, the effect on his ability to continue in business, the gravity of the violation, and the operator's good faith in attempting to comply after notification of a violation. Section 109(a)(3) requires that the penalty be assessed only after the operator "has been given an opportunity for a public hearing and the Secretary has determined, by decision incorporating his findings of fact therein, that a violation did occur, and the amount of the penalty which is warranted." Respondent mine operators protested assessed penalties but did not request formal adjudication, and after they refused to pay the assessments, the Secretary brought suits against them in the District Court seeking enforcement of the assessments. The District Court entered judgments in favor of respondents on the ground that the assessments were not supported by adequate findings of fact, and was upheld by the Court of Appeals. Held : Section 109(a)(3) does not compel the Secretary to support each penalty assessment order with express findings of fact concerning the violation and the amount of the penalty, absent a request by the mine operator for an administrative hearing. National Independent Coal Operators' Assn. v. Kleppe, 423 U.S. 388, 96 S.Ct. 809, 46 L.Ed.2d 580. Pp. 388.

(a) A protest against a penalty assessment, as opposed to a request for a hearing, does not necessarily trigger an administrative review, but the amount of the penalty is subject to de novo review in the district court whether or not a hearing was held. P. 407-408.

(b) It is not significant that the proposed assessment orders contained merely pro forma recitations that the six factors speci-

Page 404

fied in § 109(a)(1) had been considered, or that the Secretary's final orders did not mention such factors but merely set forth his finding that a violation did in fact occur. Although express findings are generally required for judicial review of an administrative determination based on a substantial-evidence test, here the operators can contest the amount of the penalty without a hearing by refusing to pay it, thus invoking the right to a de novo trial in the district court; moreover, when an operator is informed as to the details of a violation, § 105's administrative procedures come into play and appellate review is available. Pp. 408-409.

3 Cir., 495 F.2d 38, reversed and remanded.

John L. Kilcullen, Washington, D. C., for the National Independent Coal Operator's Assn. and others.

Fred Blackwell, Washington, D. C., for Delta Mining, Inc., and others.

A. Raymond Randolph, Jr., Washington, D. C., for the Secretary of the Interior and others.

Mr. Chief Justice BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

We granted certiorari in this case and consolidated it for argument with No. 73-2066, National Independent Coal Operators' Assn. v. Kleppe, 423 U.S. 388, 96 S.Ct. 809, 46 L.Ed.2d 580 (1974), decided today, to resolve an apparent conflict between the two Circuits.

Page 405

In 1971 and January 1972 inspectors from the Bureau of Mines entered and inspected the coal mines owned respectively by Delta Mining, Inc., G. M. W. Coal Co., Inc., and a partnership of Edward Mears and others known as the M. Y. Coal Co. The inspectors detected a number of violations of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, 83 Stat. 742, 30 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. or regulations and served each mine operator with notices of the infractions. 1 Each notice stated that the violations were to be abated by a specified date. The inspectors returned on that date and furnished the mine operators with a notice that the violations had been abated. The local office of the Bureau of Mines sent copies of the notice of violation and abatement to the Bureau's central office. There an assessment officer reviewed the notices and sent proposed penalty assessment orders to the mine operators. The orders contained a list of the violations, the dates of their occurrence, the regulations violated, and the amounts of the proposed penalties.

The proposed order of assessment to Delta was issued on April 11, 1972. It referred to six violations with civil penalties for each ranging from $30 to $90 for a total of $375. In December 1971, and January and May 1972, G. M. W. was issued proposed assessment orders for violations occurring from May to December 1971. Ten of the violations were assessed civil penalties from $25 to $100, totaling $525. G. M. W. also received an imminent-danger withdrawal order on November 24, 1971,

Page 406

identified as a fire hazard from loose coal in excess of three feet deep and was assessed a fine of $5,000. For violations occurring in 1971 and 1972 Mears received assessments with fines for 16 violations ranging from $25 to $100 and a 17th at $200 for a total of $1,000. It also...

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3 practice notes
  • Chandler v. Hospital Authority of City of Huntsville
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 5, 1986
    ...is entirely severable from the remainder of Article 5. See Ballew v. State, 292 Ala. 460, 296 So.2d 206 (1974), cert. den., 419 U.S. 1130, 96 S.Ct. 816, 42 L.Ed.2d 830 Therefore, that portion of the trial court's judgment dismissing Chandler's tort claim is hereby reversed, and this cause i......
  • Matlovich v. Secretary of the Air Force, No. 76-2110
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 6, 1978
    ...L.Ed.2d 447 (1974); Dunlop v. Backowski, 421 U.S. 560, 571-72, 573-74, 95 S.Ct. 1851, 44 L.Ed.2d 377 (1975); Kleppe v. Delta Mining, Inc., 423 U.S. 403, 409, 96 S.Ct. 816, 46 L.Ed.2d 591 (1976); Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. v. Ruckelshaus, 142 U.S.App.D.C. 74, 86, 88, 439 F.2d 584, 596,......
  • National Independent Coal Operators Association v. Kleppe, No. 73-2066
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 26, 1976
    ...the District of Columbia Circuit and the Third Circuit holding in Morton v. Delta Mining Inc., 495 F.2d 38 (1974), reversed and remanded, 423 U.S. 403, 96 S.Ct. 816, 46 L.Ed.2d 591. Page 391 (1) The statutory provision in question, § 109(a)(3), 30 U.S.C. § 819(a)(3), is part of the enforcem......
3 cases
  • Chandler v. Hospital Authority of City of Huntsville
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 5, 1986
    ...is entirely severable from the remainder of Article 5. See Ballew v. State, 292 Ala. 460, 296 So.2d 206 (1974), cert. den., 419 U.S. 1130, 96 S.Ct. 816, 42 L.Ed.2d 830 Therefore, that portion of the trial court's judgment dismissing Chandler's tort claim is hereby reversed, and this cause i......
  • Matlovich v. Secretary of the Air Force, No. 76-2110
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 6, 1978
    ...L.Ed.2d 447 (1974); Dunlop v. Backowski, 421 U.S. 560, 571-72, 573-74, 95 S.Ct. 1851, 44 L.Ed.2d 377 (1975); Kleppe v. Delta Mining, Inc., 423 U.S. 403, 409, 96 S.Ct. 816, 46 L.Ed.2d 591 (1976); Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. v. Ruckelshaus, 142 U.S.App.D.C. 74, 86, 88, 439 F.2d 584, 596,......
  • National Independent Coal Operators Association v. Kleppe, No. 73-2066
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 26, 1976
    ...the District of Columbia Circuit and the Third Circuit holding in Morton v. Delta Mining Inc., 495 F.2d 38 (1974), reversed and remanded, 423 U.S. 403, 96 S.Ct. 816, 46 L.Ed.2d 591. Page 391 (1) The statutory provision in question, § 109(a)(3), 30 U.S.C. § 819(a)(3), is part of the enforcem......

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