The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (“Commission”) announced that it intends to withdraw its simplified proceedings rule effective November 25, 2019. The Commission’s Federal Register announcement is found here.

The simplified proceedings were originally published in a final rule by the Commission on December 28, 2010. The Commission’s intention was to streamline its increasing caseload by making the administrative process more efficient for the simplest cases, sharply limiting discovery and implementing compressed timeframes for proceedings. The Commission also expected that the simplified proceedings would better support settlement efforts by the Mine Safety and Health Administration and mine operators.

The Commission has since determined that simplified proceedings settle at approximately the same rate as those governed by conventional procedures. In addition, the Commission had given simplified proceedings priority over more complex cases, which resulted in disproportionate Commission attention to the simplest cases.

Given the Commission’s return to conventional procedures, we urge mine operators to exercise discretion in how they choose to handle their cases. While they often can continue to represent themselves before the Commission, they may be more comfortable consulting with experienced counsel before proceeding too deeply into formal litigation.

If you have any questions about the content of this post or about Commission proceedings generally, please reach out to Stoel Rives attorney Willa B. Perlmutter.