The essence of this holding was that plaintiff's employment in the Exeter Shops did not constitute coal mine employment. The Appeals Council did not list its reasons for this conclusion but noted that the "shop was away from the mine."
Since the Appeals Council determined that the presumption was not available to plaintiff, it was obliged to consider this action under the general rules of eligibility, which require that the applicant submit evidence which establishes that the three elements of a claim are present. The Appeals Council noted that, on the basis of his ventilatory function study, plaintiff had established both the existence of pneumoconiosis and the fact that he was totally disabled. In denying his claim for benefits, however, the Appeals Council held that the third element was not present since the evidence established that plaintiff's condition arose from his employment in the Exeter Shops and not from coal mine employment. On this issue, the Appeals Council made specific reference to the fact that plaintiff himself testified that his breathing problems arose after he left actual coal mine work and had begun working at the Exeter Shops.
A coal mine is defined in 20 C.F.R. § 410.110(h) as "an area of land and all structures . . . placed upon . . . the surface of such land . . . used in, to be used in, or resulting from the work of extracting in such area . . . anthracite from its natural deposits in the earth by any means or method . . .." At issue in this case is whether the Exeter Shops fit within this definition and the crucial question with respect to this issue is whether the shops were used in "the work of" extracting coal.
The work performed in the Exeter Shops did not, in itself, involve the extraction of coal. It was, however, part of the overall process because coal can not be extracted without properly functioning mining equipment. Cf. Roberts v. Weinberger, 527 F.2d 600, 602 (4th Cir. 1975). In the opinion of the Court, this is sufficient to satisfy section 410.110(h) which requires only that the structure be involved in "the work of" extracting coal. This language and the remedial purpose of the Act indicate to the Court that § 410.110(h) should be construed broadly.
The Court draws additional support for this conclusion from the decision in Adlesberger v. Mathews, 543 F.2d 82 (7th Cir. 1976) and Roberts v. Weinberger, supra. In Aldesberger, it was established that the appellant who was a clerical employee of a coal mine "acted as the intermediary between the office and the other miners, going into an area defined as part of the mine, underneath the tipple, to direct the switching of grates and of railroad cars." She was also responsible for "all the coal weighing whether the coal was to be shipped out of the mine by rail or truck" and "got just as much dust" as those working in the tipple. Aldesberger v. Mathews, 543 F.2d at 84. The Court of Appeals concluded that these duties fell within "the work of preparing coal." In Roberts, it was established that the late husband of the claimant "operated a truck hauling coal from the immediate site of its extraction in a strip mine to a tipple where it was processed, graded and loaded into railroad cars for further shipment." Roberts v. Weinberger, 527 F.2d at 601. The Court of Appeals then awarded benefits on the grounds that "coal was not extracted and prepared until it was taken from the mine to the place where it was processed and graded." Id. at 602. The Court recognizes the different facts and legal issues involved in these cases but notes, nonetheless, that their liberal view of the extracting or preparing coal requirement implicitly supports the similar approach adopted here.
In addition, the Court is not concerned by the fact that the Exeter Shops were not in the immediate area of a coal mine or that other than coal mine equipment was repaired there. As to the former, the definition of a coal mine in § 410.110(h) is taken verbatim from 30 U.S.C. § 802. The legislative history of § 802 indicates that it was intended to be a broad definition covering "all coal mines whether underground or not" and "areas of adjoining mines physically connected underground." See 2 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 318 (1969). It is true that in order to be considered a coal mine, an above-ground structure must be used in the extraction of coal "in such area" but, in light of the above, the Court does not feel that section 410.110(h) should be read to require that an above-ground structure necessarily be in the immediate area of the mine.
As to the latter, the testimony that plaintiff worked on other than mining equipment related to the period after 1960, at which point plaintiff had already completed over twenty years of employment at the Exeter Shops. Moreover, even assuming that plaintiff worked on nonmining equipment during his earlier years at the Exeter Shops, the fact would not be significant in the absence of some showing that his respiratory ailment may have resulted from this activity. During many periods the anthracite industry did not operate on a regular basis,
and it would be antithetical to the purposes of the Act to exclude those who may have done other work during the period of their mining employment.
It is the opinion of the Court that the Exeter Shops operated by the Glen Alden Coal Company fit within the definition of a coal mine as set forth in § 410.110(h). It follows then that plaintiff has established ten years coal mine employment and is entitled to a presumption that his respiratory problems arose from coal mine employment. See 20 C.F.R. § 410.490(h). Therefore, since the record in this case is devoid of any evidence to rebut this presumption, the Court concludes that plaintiff is entitled to "Black Lung" benefits. An order will be entered denying the Secretary's motion for summary judgment and awarding summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
Chief Judge, Middle District of Pennsylvania
Now, this 7th day of September 1977, in accordance with the memorandum filed this day, it is hereby ordered that the Secretary's motion for summary judgment is denied and summary judgment is awarded in favor of plaintiff.
Chief Judge, Middle District of Pennsylvania