Island Creek KY Mining v. Ramage

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Ramage, born in 1933, worked for Island Creek for 28 years, five years underground and 23 years on the surface. In 2007 he sought black lung benefits. While the claim was pending, Congress revived a statutory rebuttable presumption that a coal miner who worked in an underground coal mine for 15 years and suffers from a total respiratory or pulmonary disability is presumed to be totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis, 30 U.S.C. 921(c)(4), applicable to pending claims filed after January 1, 2005. The ALJ noted that x-rays did not show pneumoconiosis, that Ramage could not complete a pulmonary function test due to a tracheostomy, and that arterial blood-gas studies were qualifying under the federal standards. The ALJ summarized the medical opinions of five doctors, including one who emphasized that it was impossible to distinguish between the damage due to coal dust as opposed to the damage due to smoking. The ALJ awarded benefits and the Benefits Review Board affirmed. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for review, holding that the ALJ’s determinations were reasoned and reasonable and that the legislative provisions creating the presumption are self-executing. View "Island Creek KY Mining v. Ramage" on Justia Law