fb tracking

Consolidation Coal v. Williams

Respondent Williams worked in coal mine employment in West Virginia for 38 years. In July 1995, after retiring, he filed his first claim for black lung benefits under Title IV of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act. While the claim was pending, Mr. Williams was examined by a doctor who concluded that Mr. Williams was totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis. On January 11, 1996, about a month after Mr. Williams received the doctor’s report, the Department of Labor denied his claim for black lung benefits because, it said, he did not have pneumoconiosis and was not totally disabled by the disease. Believing that there was nothing more he could do, Mr. Williams did not appeal.

By 2001 Mr. Williams’ breathing had become worse, and he filed a second claim for black lung benefits. On this second claim, after having Mr. Williams examined by a physician, the Department of Labor concluded that he was totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis.

Petitioner Consolidation Coal Company appealed the decision and argued both that Mr. Williams was not totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis and that his claim was time-barred because of the doctor’s report six years earlier. The Court of Appeals’  concluded that it would be “inherently unfair” to hold the claim time barred. The company then petitioned for review in the U.S. Supreme Court. We served as co-counsel for Mr. Williams at the cert-stage in the Supreme Court, to assist in opposing the petition for certiorari. The Court denied the petition.