In recent arguments before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, the Commission took up the question of whether MSHA had justified specially assessing and significantly marking up penalties issued to mine operator American Coal Co. MSHA levied $43,200 in penalties through a special assessment instead of the $19,000 a regular assessment would require for the five roof-related violations at issue in Sec’y of Labor v. Am. Coal Co., FMSHRC, LAKE 2011-701, LAKE 2011-881, LAKE 2011-962, LAKE 2012-58 (oral arguments, Apr. 20, 2016).

In a surprise move, when the operator’s counsel complained to the Commission judges about this 127% markup, MSHA’s lawyer agreed that MSHA had not justified the penalties and had yet to meet its burden of proof. But, the parties differed on how to resolve the problem. Read more here.