Fourth Circuit Summarily Affirms Denial of Miner’s Claim (Trump v. Eastern Associated Coal Corp.)

On Friday April 10, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the denial of a miner’s claim for black lung benefits.  The court’s unpublished, per curiam opinion in Trump v. Eastern Associated Coal Corp. (decision here) rejected Mrs. Trump’s appeal, saying only “Our review of the record discloses that the Board’s decision is based upon substantial evidence and is without reversible error.”

Mrs. Trump’s petition for review (available here) was primarily about the weighing of medical evidence.  Judge Burke did not credit the physician who believed that Mr. Trump was disabled from a respiratory perspective.  The Benefits Review Board’s decision (available here) affirmed this finding, but reversed Judge Burke’s finding that Mrs. Trump’s survivor claim should also be denied.  Basically, it appears that Mrs. Trump will have the ability on remand to prove that Mr. Trump’s hypoxemia contributed to his death even if it was not disabling.

Congratulations to Laura Klaus & Mark Solomons for their success on behalf of Eastern Associated Coal Corporation.  (The Director, OWCP did not file a brief before the Fourth Circuit).

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