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MARSHALL v. KRAYNAK

September 27, 1978

Ray MARSHALL, Secretary of Labor, Plaintiff,
v.
William R. KRAYNAK, Thomas Kraynak, George Robert Kraynak and Richard Kraynak, a partnership, trading and doing business as Kraynak Coal Company, No. 3 Mine, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROSENBERG

The matter now before me is on a motion for summary judgment filed by the plaintiff, Ray Marshall, Secretary of Labor, under the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, 30 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. (hereinafter called the "Act"). The plaintiff seeks to enjoin the defendants, William R. Kraynak, Thomas Kraynak, George Robert Kraynak, and Richard Kraynak, a partnership, trading and doing business as Kraynak Coal Company, No. 3 Mine, from allowing Federal Inspectors, agents of the plaintiff, to inspect the Kraynak coal mine.

The defendants resist the action of the plaintiff on the basis that (1) the mine is totally owned and worked by them, four brothers, as owners, and accordingly no employees are "involved" as contemplated by the Act, and (2) the coal mined by them is totally sold and consumed within the State of Pennsylvania, intrastate, and does not involve interstate commerce.

 Based upon the record, pretrial discovery matter, and the affidavit and admission of the defendants in their recital of the facts in their brief, the facts are not in dispute.

 The mine in question, known as No. 3 Mine, is located in Wilgus, Indiana County, Pennsylvania and is owned and operated entirely by four brothers, the defendants herein. No other personnel have worked for the defendants from a period of at least seven years and this situation is expected to continue.

 The first question raised by the defendants is that under the holding of Morton v. Bloom, 373 F. Supp. 797 (D.C.Pa.1973), an owner-operated mine, which produces only a minimal amount of coal, sells its product wholly within the state, and does not employ any miners, is not subject to the provisions of the Act. In the Bloom case, Supra, a single man owned and operated his mine and sold the coal entirely intrastate. The court decided the issue solely on the producer's effect on interstate commerce, which it held to be minimal. No specific reference was made as to whether owner-operated mines are excluded from the Act. The question of interstate commerce, however, was considered and held not to apply.

 The legislative history of the Act clearly indicates that Congress did not intend to create a special class of mines exempt from its coverage. The framers were concerned specifically with the Nation's attitude permeating the coal industry that mining was a hazardous occupation. Despite the hazardous nature, the Human Resources Committee was determined that these hazards be substantially reduced or eliminated. 3 U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1977, p. 3403. To this effect, the Committee announced that it was essential that there be a common regulatory program for all operators and equal protection under the law for all miners. Id. at p. 3413.

 By requesting support for differentiation between owner-operated mines from non-owner mines where employees labor, the defendants seek to place a value on an owner-operator's life as far below that of a miner in any employer-employee setting. The fact that one is part owner of an enterprise does not, in and of itself, give a court leave to allow such an owner the right to expose himself to unnecessary harm where Congress has otherwise directed. When a court sees fit to include within the Act an independent contractor involved in the sinking of shafts and excavating tunnels in a coal mine, as was done in Bituminous Coal Operators' Ass'n v. Secretary of Interior, 547 F.2d 240, C.A. 4, 1977, it is unlikely that an owner who also mines his own coal would be placed in a separate class.

 The intent of Congress is unambiguous that operators working as miners are included in the Act.

 
Section 802(d) states, " "operator' means any owner, lessee, or other persons who operates, controls, or supervises a coal or other mine or any independent contractor performing services or construction at such mine;"
 
Section 802(g) states, " "miner' means any individual working in a coal or other mine;"

 Accordingly, I find no difficulty, whatsoever, in holding that coal mine operators, particularly those who are at the same time miners, are included in the Act.

 The second question raised by the defendants is that since they sold coal only intrastate to Penntech Paper Co. and that it was within the State, the Act does not include them. The undisputed fact here is that the defendants sold 9,000 tons of the coal mined at No. 3 Mine to Penntech and that Penntech used it with ...


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