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Title 20Chapter VISubchapter B → Part 726


Title 20: Employees' Benefits


PART 726—BLACK LUNG BENEFITS; REQUIREMENTS FOR COAL MINE OPERATOR'S INSURANCE


Contents

Subpart A—General

§726.1   Statutory insurance requirements for coal mine operators.
§726.2   Purpose and scope of this part.
§726.3   Relationship of this part to other parts in this subchapter.
§726.4   Who must obtain insurance coverage.
§726.5   Effective date of insurance coverage.
§726.6   The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.
§726.7   Forms, submission of information.
§726.8   Definitions.

Subpart B—Authorization of Self-Insurers

§726.101   Who may be authorized to self-insure.
§726.102   Application for authority to become a self-insurer; how filed; information to be submitted.
§726.103   Application for authority to self-insure; effect of regulations contained in this part.
§726.104   Action by the Office upon application of operator.
§726.105   Fixing the amount of security.
§726.106   Type of security.
§726.107   Deposits of negotiable securities with Federal Reserve banks or the Treasurer of the United States; authority to sell such securities; interest thereon.
§726.108   Withdrawal of negotiable securities.
§726.109   Increase or reduction in the amount of security.
§726.110   Filing of agreement and undertaking.
§726.111   Notice of authorization to self-insure.
§726.112   Reports required of self-insurer; examination of accounts of self-insurer.
§726.113   Disclosure of confidential information.
§726.114   Period of authorization as self-insurer; reauthorization.
§726.115   Revocation of authorization to self-insure.

Subpart C—Insurance Contracts

§726.201   Insurance contracts—generally.
§726.202   Who may underwrite an operator's liability.
§726.203   Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act endorsement.
§726.204   Statutory policy provisions.
§726.205   Other forms of endorsement and policies.
§726.206   Terms of policies.
§726.207   Discharge by the carrier of obligations and duties of operator.

Reports by Carrier

§726.208   Report by carrier of issuance of policy or endorsement.
§726.209   Report; by whom sent.
§726.210   Agreement to be bound by report.
§726.211   Name of one employer only shall be given in each report.
§726.212   Notice of cancellation.
§726.213   Reports by carriers concerning the payment of benefits.

Subpart D—Civil Money Penalties

§726.300   Purpose and scope.
§726.301   Definitions.
§726.302   Determination of penalty.
§726.303   Notification; investigation.
§726.304   Notice of initial assessment.
§726.305   Contents of notice.
§726.306   Finality of administrative assessment.
§726.307   Form of notice of contest and request for hearing.
§726.308   Service and computation of time.
§726.309   Referral to the Office of Administrative Law Judges.
§726.310   Appointment of Administrative Law Judge and notification of hearing date.
§726.311   Evidence.
§726.312   Burdens of proof.
§726.313   Decision and order of Administrative Law Judge.
§726.314   Review by the Secretary.
§726.315   Contents.
§726.316   Filing and service.
§726.317   Discretionary review.
§726.318   Final decision of the Secretary.
§726.319   Retention of official record.
§726.320   Collection and recovery of penalty.

Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 30 U.S.C. 901 et seq., 902(f), 925, 932, 933, 934, 936; 33 U.S.C. 901 et seq.; 28 U.S.C. 2461 note (Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990); Pub. L. 114-74 at sec. 701; Reorganization Plan No. 6 of 1950, 15 FR 3174; Secretary's Order 10-2009, 74 FR 58834.-

Link to an amendment published at 86 FR 1779, Jan. 11, 2021.

Source: 65 FR 80097, Dec. 20, 2000, unless otherwise noted.

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Subpart A—General

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§726.1   Statutory insurance requirements for coal mine operators.

Section 423 of title IV of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act as amended (hereinafter the Act) requires each coal mine operator who is operating or has operated a coal mine in a State which is not included in the list published by the Secretary (see part 722 of this subchapter) to secure the payment of benefits for which he may be found liable under section 422 of the Act and the provisions of this subchapter by either:

(a) Qualifying as a self-insurer, or

(b) By subscribing to and maintaining in force a commercial insurance contract (including a policy or contract procured from a State agency).

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§726.2   Purpose and scope of this part.

(a) This part provides rules directing and controlling the circumstances under which a coal mine operator shall fulfill his insurance obligations under the Act.

(b) This Subpart A sets forth the scope and purpose of this part and generally describes the statutory framework within which this part is operative.

(c) Subpart B of this part sets forth the criteria a coal mine operator must meet in order to qualify as a self-insurer.

(d) Subpart C of this part sets forth the rules and regulations of the Secretary governing contracts of insurance entered into by coal mine operators and commercial insurance sources for the payment of black lung benefits under part C of the Act.

(e) Subpart D of this part sets forth the rules governing the imposition of civil money penalties on coal mine operators that fail to secure their liability under the Act.

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§726.3   Relationship of this part to other parts in this subchapter.

(a) This part 726 implements and effectuates responsibilities for the payment of black lung benefits placed upon coal mine operators by sections 415 and 422 of the Act and the regulations of the Secretary in this subchapter, particularly those set forth in part 725 of this subchapter. All definitions, usages, procedures, and other rules affecting the responsibilities of coal mine operators prescribed in part 725 of this subchapter are hereby made applicable, as appropriate, to this part 726.

(b) If the provisions of this part appear to conflict with any provision of any other part in this subchapter, the apparently conflicting provisions should be read harmoniously to the fullest extent possible. If a harmonious interpretation is not possible, the provisions of this part should be applied to govern the responsibilities and obligations of coal mine operators to secure the payment of black lung benefits as prescribed by the Act. The provisions of this part do not apply to matters falling outside the scope of this part.

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§726.4   Who must obtain insurance coverage.

(a) Section 423 of part C of title IV of the Act requires each operator of a coal mine or former operator in any State which does meet the requirements prescribed by the Secretary pursuant to section 411 of part C of title IV of the Act to self-insure or obtain a policy or contract of insurance to guarantee the payment of benefits for which such operator may be adjudicated liable under section 422 of the Act. In enacting sections 422 and 423 of the Act Congress has unambiguously expressed its intent that coal mine operators bear the cost of providing the benefits established by part C of title IV of the Act. Section 3 of the Act defines an “operator” as any owner, lessee, or other person who operates, controls, or supervises a coal mine.

(b) Section 422(i) of the Act clearly recognizes that any individual or business entity who is or was a coal mine operator may be found liable for the payment of pneumoconiosis benefits after December 31, 1973. Within this framework it is clear that the Secretary has wide latitude for determining which operator shall be liable for the payment of part C benefits. Comprehensive standards have been promulgated in subpart G of part 725 of this subchapter for the purpose of guiding the Secretary in making such determination. It must be noted that pursuant to these standards any parent or subsidiary corporation, any individual or corporate partner, or partnership, any lessee or lessor of a coal mine, any joint venture or participant in a joint venture, any transferee or transferor of a corporation or other business entity, any former, current, or future operator or any other form of business entity which has had or will have a substantial and reasonably direct interest in the operation of a coal mine may be determined liable for the payment of pneumoconiosis benefits after December 31, 1973. The failure of any such business entity to self-insure or obtain a policy or contract of insurance shall in no way relieve such business entity of its obligation to pay pneumoconiosis benefits in respect of any case in which such business entity's responsibility for such payments has been properly adjudicated. Any business entity described in this section shall take appropriate steps to insure that any liability imposed by part C of the Act on such business entity shall be dischargeable.

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§726.5   Effective date of insurance coverage.

Pursuant to section 422(c) of part C of title IV of the Act, no coal mine operator shall be responsible for the payment of any benefits whatsoever for any period prior to January 1, 1974. However, coal mine operators shall be liable as of January 1, 1974, for the payment of benefits in respect of claims which were filed under section 415 of part B of title IV of the Act after July 1, 1973. Section 415(a)(3) requires the Secretary to notify any operator who may be liable for the payment of benefits under part C of title IV beginning on January 1, 1974, of the pendency of a section 415 claim. Section 415(a)(5) declares that any operator who has been notified of the pendency of a section 415 claim shall be bound by the determination of the Secretary as to such operator's liability and as to the claimant's entitlement to benefits as if the claim were filed under part C of title IV of the Act and section 422 thereof had been applicable to such operator. Therefore, even though no benefit payments shall be required of an operator prior to January 1, 1974, the liability for these payments may be finally adjudicated at any time after July 1, 1973. Neither the failure of an operator to exercise his right to participate in the adjudication of such a claim nor the failure of an operator to obtain insurance coverage in respect of claims filed after June 30, 1973, but before January 1, 1974, shall excuse such operator from his liability for the payment of benefits to such claimants under part C of title IV of the Act.

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§726.6   The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.

The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (hereinafter the Office or OWCP) is that division of the U.S. Department of Labor which has been empowered by the Secretary of Labor to carry out his or her functions under section 415 and part C of title IV of the Act. As noted throughout this part 726 the Office shall perform a number of functions with respect to the regulation of both the self-insurance and commercial insurance programs. All correspondence with or submissions to the Office should be addressed as follows: Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20210.

[77 FR 37286, June 21, 2012]

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§726.7   Forms, submission of information.

Any information required by this part 726 to be submitted to the Office of Workmen's Compensation Programs or any other office or official of the Department of Labor, shall be submitted on such forms or in such manner as the Secretary deems appropriate and has authorized from time to time for such purposes.

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§726.8   Definitions.

In addition to the definitions provided in part 725 of this subchapter, the following definitions apply to this part:

(a) Director means the Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, and includes any official of the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs authorized by the Director to perform any of the functions of the Director under this part and part 725 of this subchapter.

(b) Person includes any individual, partnership, corporation, association, business trust, legal representative, or organized group of persons.

(c) Secretary means the Secretary of Labor or such other official as the Secretary shall designate to carry out any responsibility under this part.

(d) The terms employ and employment shall be construed as broadly as possible, and shall include any relationship under which an operator retains the right to direct, control, or supervise the work performed by a miner, or any other relationship under which an operator derives a benefit from the work performed by a miner. Any individuals who participate with one or more persons in the mining of coal, such as owners, proprietors, partners, and joint venturers, whether they are compensated by wages, salaries, piece rates, shares, profits, or by any other means, shall be deemed employees. It is the specific intention of this paragraph to disregard any financial arrangement or business entity devised by the actual owners or operators of a coal mine or coal mine-related enterprise to avoid the payment of benefits to miners who, based upon the economic reality of their relationship to this enterprise, are, in fact, employees of the enterprise.

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Subpart B—Authorization of Self-Insurers

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§726.101   Who may be authorized to self-insure.

(a) Pursuant to section 423 of part C of title IV of the Act, authorization to self-insure against liability incurred by coal mine operators on account of the total disability or death of miners due to pneumoconiosis may be granted or denied in the discretion of the Secretary. The provisions of this subpart describe the minimum requirements established by the Secretary for determining whether any particular coal mine operator shall be authorized as a self-insurer.

(b) The minimum requirements which must be met by any operator seeking authorization to self-insure are as follows:

(1) The operator must, at the time of application, have been in the business of mining coal for at least the 3 consecutive years prior to such application; and,

(2) The operator must demonstrate the administrative capacity to fully service such claims as may be filed against him; and,

(3) The operator's average current assets over the preceding 3 years (in computing average current assets such operator shall not include the amount of any negotiable securities which he may be required to deposit to secure his obligations under the Act) must exceed current liabilities by the sum of—

(i) The estimated aggregate amount of black lung benefits (including medical benefits) which such operator may expect to be required to pay during the ensuing year; and,

(ii) The annual premium cost for any indemnity bond purchased; and

(4) Such operator must obtain security, in a form approved by the Office (see §726.104) and in an amount to be determined by the Office (see §726.105); and

(5) No operator with fewer than 5 full-time employee-miners shall be permitted to self-insure.

(c) No operator who is unable to meet the requirements of this section should apply for authorization to self-insure and no application for self-insurance shall be approved by the Office until such time as the amount prescribed by the Office has been secured in accordance with this subpart.

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§726.102   Application for authority to become a self-insurer; how filed; information to be submitted.

(a) How filed. Application for authority to become a self-insurer shall be addressed to the Office and be made on a form provided by the Office. Such application shall be signed by the applicant over his typewritten name and if the applicant is not an individual, by the principal officer of the applicant duly authorized to make such application over his typewritten name and official designation and shall be sworn to by him. If the applicant is a corporation, the corporate seal shall be affixed. The application shall be filed with the Office in Washington, D.C.

(b) Information to be submitted. Each application for authority to self-insure shall contain:

(1) A statement of the employer's payroll report for each of the preceding 3 years;

(2) A statement of the average number of employees engaged in employment within the purview of the Act for each of the preceding 3 years;

(3) A list of the mine or mines to be covered by any particular self-insurance agreement. Each such mine or mines listed shall be described by name and reference shall be made to the Federal Identification Number assigned such mine by the Bureau of Mines, U.S. Department of the Interior;

(4) A certified itemized statement of the gross and net assets and liabilities of the operator for each of the 3 preceding years in such manner as prescribed by the Office;

(5) A statement demonstrating the applicant's administrative capacity to provide or procure adequate servicing for a claim including both medical and dollar claims; and

(6) In addition to the aforementioned, the Office may in its discretion, require the applicant to submit such further information or such evidence as the Office may deem necessary to have in order to enable it to give adequate consideration to such application.

(c) Who may file. An application for authorization to self-insure may be filed by any parent or subsidiary corporation, partner or partnership, party to a joint venture or joint venture, individual, or other business entity which may be determined liable for the payment of black lung benefits under part C of title IV of the Act, regardless of whether such applicant is directly engaged in the business of mining coal. However, in each case for which authorization to self-insure is granted, the agreement and undertaking filed pursuant to §726.110 and the security deposit shall be respectively filed by and deposited in the name of the applicant only.

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§726.103   Application for authority to self-insure; effect of regulations contained in this part.

As appropriate, each of the regulations, interpretations and requirements contained in this part 726 including those described in subpart C of this part shall be binding upon each applicant under this subpart, and the applicant's consent to be bound by all requirements of the said regulations shall be deemed to be included in and a part of the application, as fully as though written therein.

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§726.104   Action by the Office upon application of operator.

(a) Upon receipt of a completed application for authorization to self-insure, the Office shall, after examination of the information contained in the application, either deny the request or determine the amount of security which must be given by the applicant to guarantee the payment of benefits and the discharge of all other obligations which may be required of such applicant under the Act.

(b) The applicant shall thereafter be notified that he may give security in the amount fixed by the Office (see §726.105):

(1) In the form of an indemnity bond with sureties satisfactory to the Office;

(2) By a deposit of negotiable securities with a Federal Reserve Bank in compliance with §§726.106(c) and 726.107;

(3) In the form of a letter of credit issued by a financial institution satisfactory to the Office (except that a letter of credit shall not be sufficient by itself to satisfy a self-insurer's obligations under this part); or

(4) By funding a trust pursuant to section 501(c)(21) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C.).

(c) Any applicant who cannot meet the security deposit requirements imposed by the Office should proceed to obtain a commercial policy or contract of insurance. Any applicant for authorization to self-insure whose application has been rejected or who believes that the security deposit requirements imposed by the Office are excessive may, in writing, request that the Office review its determination. A request for review should contain such information as may be necessary to support the request that the amount of security required be reduced.

(d) Upon receipt of any such request, the Office shall review its previous determination in light of any new or additional information submitted and inform the applicant whether or not a reduction in the amount of security initially required is warranted.

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§726.105   Fixing the amount of security.

The Office shall require the amount of security which it deems necessary and sufficient to secure the performance by the applicant of all obligations imposed upon him as an operator by the Act. In determining the amount of security required, the factors that the Office will consider include, but are not limited to, the operator's net worth, the existence of a guarantee by a parent corporation, and the operator's existing liability for benefits. The Office shall also consider such other factors as it considers relevant to any particular case. The amount of security which shall be required may be increased or decreased when experience or changed conditions so warrant.

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§726.106   Type of security.

(a) The Office shall determine the type or types of security which an applicant shall or may procure. (See §726.104(b).)

(b) In the event the indemnity bond option is selected, the bond shall be in such form and contain such provisions as the Office may prescribe: Provided, That only corporations may act as sureties on such indemnity bonds. In each case in which the surety on any such bond is a surety company, such company must be one approved by the U.S. Treasury Department under the laws of the United States and the applicable rules and regulations governing bonding companies (see Department of Treasury's Circular—570).

(c) An applicant for authorization to self-insure based on a deposit of negotiable securities, in the amount fixed by the Office, shall deposit any negotiable securities acceptable as security for the deposit of public moneys of the United States under regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury. (See 31 CFR part 225.) The approval, valuation, acceptance, and custody of such securities is hereby committed to the several Federal Reserve Banks and the Treasurer of the United States.

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§726.107   Deposits of negotiable securities with Federal Reserve banks or the Treasurer of the United States; authority to sell such securities; interest thereon.

Deposits of securities provided for by the regulations in this part shall be made with any Federal Reserve bank or any branch of a Federal Reserve bank designated by the Office, or the Treasurer of the United States, and shall be held subject to the order of the Office with power in the Office, in its discretion in the event of default by the said self-insurer, to collect the interest as it may become due, to sell the securities or any of them as may be required to discharge the obligations of the self-insurer under the Act and to apply the proceeds to the payment of any benefits or medical expenses for which the self-insurer may be liable. The Office may, however, whenever it deems it unnecessary to resort to such securities for the payment of benefits, authorize the self-insurer to collect interest on the securities deposited by him.

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§726.108   Withdrawal of negotiable securities.

No withdrawal of negotiable securities deposited by a self-insurer, shall be made except upon authorization by the Office. A self-insurer discontinuing business, or discontinuing operations within the purview of the Act, or providing security for the payment of benefits by commercial insurance under the provisions of the Act may apply to the Office for the withdrawal of securities deposited under the regulations in this part. With such application shall be filed a sworn statement setting forth:

(a) A list of all outstanding cases in which benefits are being paid, with the names of the miners and other beneficiaries, giving a statement of the amounts of benefits paid and the periods for which such benefits have been paid; and

(b) A similar list of all pending cases in which no benefits have as yet been paid. In such cases withdrawals may be authorized by the Office of such securities as in the opinion of the Office may not be necessary to provide adequate security for the payment of outstanding and potential liabilities of such self-insurer under the Act.

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§726.109   Increase or reduction in the amount of security.

Whenever in the opinion of the Office the amount of security given by the self-insurer is insufficient to afford adequate security for the payment of benefits and medical expenses under the Act, the self-insurer shall, upon demand by the Office, file such additional security as the Office may require. The Office may reduce the amount of security at any time on its own initiative, or upon the application of a self-insurer, when it believes the facts warrant a reduction. A self-insurer seeking a reduction shall furnish such information as the Office may request relative to his current affairs, the nature and hazard of the work of his employees, the amount of the payroll of his employees engaged in coal mine employment within the purview of the Act, his financial condition, and such other evidence as may be deemed material, including a record of benefit payments he has made.

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§726.110   Filing of agreement and undertaking.

(a) In addition to the requirement that adequate security be procured as set forth in this subpart, the applicant for the authorization to self-insure shall, as a condition precedent to receiving such authorization, execute and file with the Office an agreement and undertaking in a form prescribed and provided by the Office in which the applicant shall agree:

(1) To pay when due, as required by the Act, all benefits payable on account of total disability or death of any of its employee-miners;

(2) To furnish medical, surgical, hospital, and other attendance, treatment, and care as required by the Act;

(3) To provide security in a form approved by the Office (see §726.104) and in an amount established by the Office (see §726.105), as elected in the application;

(4) To authorize the Office to sell any negotiable securities so deposited or any part thereof, and to pay from the proceeds thereof such benefits, medical, and other expenses and any accrued penalties imposed by law as the Office may find to be due and payable.

(b) When an applicant has provided the requisite security, he shall send to the Office in Washington, D.C. a completed agreement and undertaking, together with satisfactory proof that his obligations and liabilities under the Act have been secured.

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§726.111   Notice of authorization to self-insure.

Upon receipt of a completed agreement and undertaking and satisfactory proof that adequate security has been provided, an applicant for authorization to self-insure shall be notified by the Office in writing that he is authorized to self-insure to meet the obligations imposed upon him by section 415 and part C of title IV of the Act.

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§726.112   Reports required of self-insurer; examination of accounts of self-insurer.

(a) Each operator who has been authorized to self-insure under this part shall submit to the Office reports containing such information as the Office may from time to time require or prescribe.

(b) Whenever it deems it to be necessary, the Office may inspect or examine the books of account, records, and other papers of a self-insurer for the purpose of verifying any financial statement submitted to the Office by the self-insurer or verifying any information furnished to the Office in any report required by this section, or any other section of the regulations in this part, and such self-insurer shall permit the Office or its duly authorized representative to make such an inspection or examination as the Office shall require. In lieu of this requirement the Office may in its discretion accept an adequate report of a certified public accountant.

(c) Failure to submit or make available any report or information requested by the Office from an authorized self-insurer pursuant to this section may, in appropriate circumstances result in a revocation of the authorization to self-insure.

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§726.113   Disclosure of confidential information.

Any financial information or records, or other information relating to the business of an authorized self-insurer or applicant for the authorization of self-insurance obtained by the Office shall be exempt from public disclosure to the extent provided in 5 U.S.C. 552(b) and the applicable regulations of the Department of Labor promulgated thereunder. (See 29 CFR part 70.)

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§726.114   Period of authorization as self-insurer; reauthorization.

(a) No initial authorization to self-insure shall be granted for a period in excess of 18 months. A self-insurer who has made an adequate deposit of negotiable securities in compliance with §§726.106(c) and 726.107 will be reauthorized for the ensuing fiscal year without additional security if the Office finds that his experience as a self-insurer warrants such action. If the Office determines that such self-insurer's experience indicates a need for the deposit of additional security, no reauthorization shall be issued for the ensuing fiscal year until the Office receives satisfactory proof that the requisite amount of additional securities has been deposited. A self-insurer who currently has on file an indemnity bond will receive from the Office each year a bond form for execution in contemplation of reauthorization, and the submission of such bond duly executed in the amount indicated by the Office will be deemed and treated as such self-insurer's application for reauthorization for the ensuing fiscal year.

(b) In each case for which there is an approved change in the amount of security provided, a new agreement and undertaking shall be executed.

(c) Each operator authorized to self-insure under this part shall apply for reauthorization for any period during which it engages in the operation of a coal mine and for additional periods after it ceases operating a coal mine. Upon application by the operator, accompanied by proof that the security it has posted is sufficient to secure all benefits potentially payable to miners formerly employed by the operator, the Office shall issue a certification that the operator is exempt from the requirements of this part based on its prior operation of a coal mine. The provisions of subpart D of this part shall be applicable to any operator that fails to apply for reauthorization in accordance with the provisions of this section.

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§726.115   Revocation of authorization to self-insure.

The Office may for good cause shown suspend or revoke the authorization of any self-insurer. Failure by a self-insurer to comply with any provision or requirement of law or of the regulations in this part, or with any lawful order or communication of the Office, or the failure or insolvency of the surety on his indemnity bond, or impairment of financial responsibility of such self-insurer, may be deemed good cause for such suspension or revocation.

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Subpart C—Insurance Contracts

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§726.201   Insurance contracts—generally.

Each operator of a coal mine who has not obtained authorization as a self-insurer shall purchase a policy or enter into a contract with a commercial insurance carrier or State agency. Pursuant to authority contained in sections 422(a) and 423(b) and (c) of part C of title IV of the Act, this subpart describes a number of provisions which are required to be incorporated in a policy or contract of insurance obtained by a coal mine operator for the purpose of meeting the responsibility imposed upon such operator by the Act in respect of the total disability or death of miners due to pneumoconiosis.

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§726.202   Who may underwrite an operator's liability.

Each coal mine operator who is not authorized to self-insure shall insure and keep insured the payment of benefits as required by the Act with any stock company or mutual company or association, or with any other person, or fund, including any State fund while such company, association, person, or fund is authorized under the law of any State to insure workmen's compensation.

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§726.203   Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act endorsement.

(a) The following form of endorsement shall be attached and applicable to the standard workmen's compensation and employer's liability policy prepared by the National Council on Compensation Insurance affording coverage under the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, as amended:

It is agreed that: (1) With respect to operations in a State designated in item 3 of the declarations, the unqualified term “workmen's compensation law” includes part C of title IV of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, 30 U.S.C. section 931-936, and any laws amendatory thereto, or supplementary thereto, which may be or become effective while this policy is in force, and definition (a) of Insuring Agreement III is amended accordingly; (2) with respect to such insurance as is afforded by this endorsement, (a) the States, if any, named below, shall be deemed to be designated in item 3 of the declaration; (b) Insuring Agreement IV(2) is amended to read “by disease caused or aggravated by exposure of which the last day of the last exposure, in the employment of the insured, to conditions causing the disease occurs during the policy period, or occurred prior to (effective date) and claim based on such disease is first filed against the insured during the policy period.”

(b) The term “effective date” as used in paragraph (a) of this section shall be construed to mean the effective date of the first policy or contract of insurance procured by an operator for purposes of meeting the obligations imposed on such operator by section 423 of part C of title IV of the Act.

(c) The Act contains a number of provisions and imposes a number of requirements on operators which differ in varying degrees from traditional workmen's compensation concepts. To avoid unnecessary administrative delays and expense which might be occasioned by the drafting of an entirely new standard workmen's compensation policy specially tailored to the Act, the Office has determined that the existing standard workmen's compensation policy subject to the endorsement provisions contained in paragraph (a) of this section shall be acceptable for purposes of writing commercial insurance coverage under the Act. However, to avoid undue disputes over the meaning of certain policy provisions and in accordance with the authority contained in section 423(b)(3) of the Act, the Office has determined that the following requirements shall be applicable to all commercial insurance policies obtained by an operator for the purpose of insuring any liability incurred pursuant to the Act:

(1) Operator liability. (i) Section 415 and part C of title IV of the Act provide coverage for total disability or death due to pneumoconiosis to all claimants who meet the eligibility requirements imposed by the Act. Section 422 of the Act and the regulations duly promulgated thereunder (part 725 of this subchapter) set forth the conditions under which a coal mine operator may be adjudicated liable for the payment of benefits to an eligible claimant for any period subsequent to December 31, 1973.

(ii) Section 422(c) of the Act prescribes that except as provided in 422(i) (see paragraph (c)(2) of this section) an operator may be adjudicated liable for the payment of benefits in any case if the total disability or death due to pneumoconiosis upon which the claim is predicated arose at least in part out of employment in a mine in any period during which it was operated by such operator. The Act does not require that such employment which contributed to or caused the total disability or death due to pneumoconiosis occur subsequent to any particular date in time. The Secretary in establishing a formula for determining the operator liable for the payment of benefits (see subpart D of part 725 of this subchapter) in respect of any particular claim, must therefore, within the framework and intent of title IV of the Act find in appropriate cases that an operator is liable for the payment of benefits for some period after December 31, 1973, even though the employment upon which an operator's liability is based occurred prior to July 1, 1973, or prior to the effective date of the Act or the effective date of any amendments thereto, or prior to the effective date of any policy or contract of insurance obtained by such operator. The endorsement provisions contained in paragraph (a) of this section shall be construed to incorporate these requirements in any policy or contract of insurance obtained by an operator to meet the obligations imposed on such operator by section 423 of the Act.

(2) Successor liability. Section 422(i) of part C of title IV of the Act requires that a coal mine operator who after December 30, 1969, acquired his mine or substantially all of the assets thereof from a person who was an operator of such mine on or after December 30, 1969, shall be liable for and shall secure the payment of benefits which would have been payable by the prior operator with respect to miners previously employed in such mine if the acquisition had not occurred and the prior operator had continued to operate such mine. In the case of an operator who is determined liable for the payment of benefits under section 422(i) of the Act and part 725 of this subchapter, such liability shall accrue to such operator regardless of the fact that the miner on whose total disability or death the claim is predicated was never employed by such operator in any capacity. The endorsement provisions contained in paragraph (a) of this section shall be construed to incorporate this requirement in any policy or contract of insurance obtained by an operator to meet the obligations imposed on such operator by section 423 of the Act.

(3) Medical eligibility. Pursuant to section 422(h) of part C of title IV of the Act and the regulations described therein (see subpart D of part 410 of this title) benefits shall be paid to eligible claimants on account of total disability or death due to pneumoconiosis and in cases where the miner on whose death a claim is predicated was totally disabled by pneumoconiosis at the time of his death regardless of the cause of such death. The endorsement provisions contained in paragraph (a) of this section shall be construed to incorporate these requirements in any policy or contract of insurance obtained by an operator to meet the obligations imposed on such operator by section 423 of the Act.

(4) Payment of benefits, rates. Section 422(c) of the Act by incorporating section 412(a) of the Act requires the payment of benefits at a rate equal to 50 per centum of the minimum monthly payment to which a Federal employee in grade GS-2, who is totally disabled is entitled at the time of payment under Chapter 81 of title 5, United States Code. These benefits are augmented on account of eligible dependents as appropriate (see section 412(a) of part B of title IV of the Act). Since the dollar amount of benefits payable to any beneficiary is required to be computed at the time of payment such amounts may be expected to increase from time to time as changes in the GS-2 grade are enacted into law. The endorsement provisions contained in paragraph (a) of this section shall be construed to incorporate in any policy or contract of insurance obtained by an operator to meet the obligations imposed on such operator by section 423 of the Act, the requirement that the payment of benefits to eligible beneficiaries shall be made in such dollar amounts as are prescribed by section 412(a) of the Act computed at the time of payment.

(5) Compromise and waiver of benefits. Section 422(a) of part C of title IV of the Act by incorporating sections 15(b) and 16 of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (33 U.S.C. 915(b) and 916) prohibits the compromise and/or waiver of claims for benefits filed or benefits payable under section 415 and part C of title IV of the Act. The endorsement provisions contained in paragraph (a) of this section shall be construed to incorporate these prohibitions in any policy or contract of insurance obtained by an operator to meet the obligations imposed on such operator by section 423 of the Act.

(6) Additional requirements. In addition to the requirements described in paragraph (c)(1) through (5) of this section, the endorsement provisions contained in paragraph (a) of this section shall, to the fullest extent possible, be construed to bring any policy or contract of insurance entered into by an operator for the purpose of insuring such operator's liability under part C of title IV of the Act into conformity with the legal requirements placed upon such operator by section 415 and part C of title IV of the Act and parts 720 and 725 of this subchapter.

(d) Nothing in this section shall relieve any operator or carrier of the duty to comply with any State workmen's compensation law, except insofar as such State law is in conflict with the provisions of this section.

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§726.204   Statutory policy provisions.

Pursuant to section 423(b) of part C of title IV of the Act each policy or contract of insurance obtained to comply with the requirements of section 423(a) of the Act must contain or shall be construed to contain—

(a) A provision to pay benefits required under section 422 of the Act, notwithstanding the provisions of the State workmen's compensation law which may provide for lesser payments; and,

(b) A provision that insolvency or bankruptcy of the operator or discharge therein (or both) shall not relieve the carrier from liability for such payments.

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§726.205   Other forms of endorsement and policies.

Forms of endorsement or policies other than that described in §726.203 may be entered into by operators to insure their liability under the Act. However, any form of endorsement or policy which materially alters or attempts to materially alter an operator's liability for the payment of any benefits under the Act shall be deemed insufficient to discharge such operator's duties and responsibilities as prescribed in part C of title IV of the Act. In any event, the failure of an operator to obtain an adequate policy or contract of insurance shall not affect such operator's liability for the payment of any benefits for which he is determined liable.

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§726.206   Terms of policies.

A policy or contract of insurance shall be issued for the term of 1 year from the date that it becomes effective, but if such insurance be not needed except for a particular contract or operation, the term of the policy may be limited to the period of such contract or operation.

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§726.207   Discharge by the carrier of obligations and duties of operator.

Every obligation and duty in respect of payment of benefits, the providing of medical and other treatment and care, the payment or furnishing of any other benefit required by the Act and in respect of the carrying out of the administrative procedure required or imposed by the Act or the regulations in this part or part 725 of this subchapter upon an operator shall be discharged and carried out by the carrier as appropriate. Notice to or knowledge of an operator of the occurrence of total disability or death due to pneumoconiosis shall be notice to or knowledge of such carrier. Jurisdiction of the operator by a district director, administrative law judge, the Office, or appropriate appellate authority under the Act shall be jurisdiction of such carrier. Any requirement under any benefits order, finding, or decision shall be binding upon such carrier in the same manner and to the same extent as upon the operator.

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Reports by Carrier

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§726.208   Report by carrier of issuance of policy or endorsement.

Each carrier shall report to the Office each policy and endorsement issued, canceled, or renewed by it to an operator. The report shall be made in such manner and on such form as the Office may require.

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§726.209   Report; by whom sent.

The report of issuance, cancellation, or renewal of a policy and endorsement provided for in §726.208 shall be sent by the home office of the carrier, except that any carrier may authorize its agency or agencies to make such reports to the Office.

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§726.210   Agreement to be bound by report.

Every carrier seeking to write insurance under the provisions of the Act shall be deemed to have agreed that the acceptance by the Office of a report of the issuance or renewal of a policy of insurance, as provided for by §726.208 shall bind the carrier to full liability for the obligations under the Act of the operator named in said report. It shall be no defense to this agreement that the carrier failed or delayed to issue, cancel, or renew the policy to the operator covered by this report.

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§726.211   Name of one employer only shall be given in each report.

A separate report of the issuance or renewal of a policy and endorsement, provided for by §726.208, shall be made for each operator covered by a policy. If a policy is issued or renewed insuring more than one operator, a separate report for each operator so covered shall be sent to the Office with the name of only one operator on each such report.

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§726.212   Notice of cancellation.

Cancellation of a contract or policy of insurance issued under authority of the Act shall not become effective otherwise than as provided by 33 U.S.C. 936(b); and notice of a proposed cancellation shall be given to the Office and to the operator in accordance with the provisions of 33 U.S.C. 912(c), 30 days before such cancellation is intended to be effective (see section 422(a) of part C of title IV of the Act).

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§726.213   Reports by carriers concerning the payment of benefits.

Pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 914(c) as incorporated by section 422(a) of part C of title IV of the Act and §726.207 each carrier issuing a policy or contract of insurance under the Act shall upon making the first payment of benefits and upon the suspension of any payment in any case, immediately notify the Office in accordance with a form prescribed by the Office that payment of benefit has begun or has been suspended as the case may be. In addition, each such carrier shall at the request of the Office submit to the Office such additional information concerning policies or contracts of insurance issued to guarantee the payment of benefits under the Act and any benefits paid thereunder, as the Office may from time to time require to carry out its responsibilities under the Act.

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Subpart D—Civil Money Penalties

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§726.300   Purpose and scope.

Any operator which is required to secure the payment of benefits under section 423 of the Act and §726.4 and which fails to secure such benefits, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $1,000, as adjusted by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended, for each day during which such failure occurs. If the operator is a corporation, the president, secretary, and treasurer of the operator shall also be severally liable for the penalty based on the operator's failure to secure the payment of benefits. This subpart defines those terms necessary for administration of the civil money penalty provisions, describes the criteria for determining the amount of penalty to be assessed, and sets forth applicable procedures for the assessment and contest of penalties.

[81 FR 43449, July 1, 2016]

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§726.301   Definitions.

In addition to the definitions provided in part 725 of this subchapter and §726.8, the following definitions apply to this subpart:

(a) Division Director means the Director, Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, or such other official authorized by the Division Director to perform any of the functions of the Division Director under this subpart.

(b) President, secretary, or treasurer means the officers of a corporation as designated pursuant to the laws and regulations of the state in which the corporation is incorporated or, if that state does not require the designation of such officers, the employees of a company who are performing the work usually performed by such officers in the state in which the corporation's principal place of business is located.

(c) Principal means any person who has an ownership interest in an operator that is not a corporation, and shall include, but is not limited to, partners, sole proprietors, and any other person who exercises control over the operation of a coal mine.

[65 FR 80097, Dec. 20, 2000, as amended at 77 FR 37287, June 21, 2012]

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§726.302   Determination of penalty.

(a) The following method shall be used for determining the amount of any penalty assessed under this subpart.

(b) The penalty shall be determined by multiplying the daily base penalty amount or amounts, determined in accordance with the formula set forth in this section, by the number of days in the period during which the operator is subject to the security requirements of section 423 of the Act and §726.4, and fails to secure its obligations under the Act. The period during which an operator is subject to liability for a penalty for failure to secure its obligations shall be deemed to commence on the first day on which the operator met the definition of the term “operator” as set forth in §725.101 of this subchapter. The period shall be deemed to continue even where the operator has ceased coal mining and any related activity, unless the operator secured its liability for all previous periods through a policy or policies of insurance obtained in accordance with subpart C of this part or has obtained a certification of exemption in accordance with the provisions of §726.114.

(c)(1) A daily base penalty amount shall be determined for all periods up to and including the 10th day after the operator's receipt of the notification sent by the Director pursuant to §726.303, during which the operator failed to secure its obligations under section 423 of the Act and §726.4.

(2)(i) The daily base penalty amount shall be determined based on the number of persons employed in coal mine employment by the operator, or engaged in coal mine employment on behalf of the operator, on each day of the period defined by this section.

For penalties assessed after January 15, 2021, the daily base penalty amount shall be computed as follows:

EmployeesPenalty
(per day)
Less than 25$148
25-50293
51-100441
More than 100586

(ii) For any period after the operator has ceased coal mining and any related activity, the daily penalty amount shall be computed based on the largest number of persons employed in coal mine employment by the operator, or engaged in coal mine employment on behalf of the operator, on any day while the operator was engaged in coal mining or any related activity. For purposes of this section, it shall be presumed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that any person employed by an operator is employed in coal mine employment.

(3) In any case in which the operator had prior notice of the applicability of the Black Lung Benefits Act to its operations, the daily base penalty amounts set forth in paragraph (c)(2)(i) of this section shall be doubled. Prior notice may be inferred where the operator, or an entity in which the operator or any of its principals had an ownership interest, or an entity in which the operator's president, secretary, or treasurer were employed:

(i) Previously complied with section 423 of the Act and §726.4;

(ii) Was notified of its obligation to comply with section 423 of the Act and §726.4; or

(iii) Was notified of its potential liability for a claim filed under the Black Lung Benefits Act pursuant to §725.407 of this subchapter.

(4) Commencing with the 11th day after the operator's receipt of the notification sent by the Director pursuant to §726.303, for penalties assessed after January 15, 2021, the daily base penalty amounts set forth in paragraph (c)(2)(i) shall be increased by $148.

(5) In any case in which the operator, or any of its principals, or an entity in which the operator's president, secretary, or treasurer were employed, has been the subject of a previous penalty assessment under this part, for penalties assessed after January 15, 2021, the daily base penalty amounts shall be increased by $441.

(6) The maximum daily base penalty amount applicable to any violation of §726.4 for which penalties are assessed after January 15, 2020, shall be $3,001.

(d) The penalty shall be subject to reduction for any period during which the operator had a reasonable belief that it was not required to comply with section 423 of the Act and §726.4 or a reasonable belief that it had obtained insurance coverage to comply with section 423 of the Act and §726.4. A notice of contest filed in accordance with §726.307 shall not be sufficient to establish a reasonable belief that the operator was not required to comply with the Act and regulations.

[65 FR 80097, Dec. 20, 2000, as amended at 81 FR 43449, July 1, 2016; 82 FR 5381, Jan. 18, 2017; 83 FR 12, Jan. 2, 2018; 84 FR 217, Jan. 23, 2019; 85 FR 2297, Jan. 15, 2020; 86 FR, Jan. 15, 2021]

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§726.303   Notification; investigation.

(a) If the Director determines that an operator has violated the provisions of section 423 of the Act and §726.4, he or she shall notify the operator of its violation and request that the operator immediately secure the payment of benefits. Such notice shall be sent by certified mail.

(b) The Director shall also direct the operator to supply information relevant to the assessment of a penalty. Such information, which shall be supplied within 30 days of the Director's request, may include:

(1) The date on which the operator commenced its operation of a coal mine;

(2) The number of persons employed by the operator since it began operating a coal mine and the dates of their employment; and

(3) The identity and last known address:

(i) In the case of a corporation, of all persons who served as president, secretary, and treasurer of the operator since it began operating a coal mine; or

(ii) In the case of an operator which is not incorporated, of all persons who were principals of the operator since it began operating a coal mine;

(c) In conducting any investigation of an operator under this subpart, the Division Director shall have all of the powers of a district director, as set forth at §725.351(a) of this subchapter. For purposes of §725.351(c), the Division Director shall be considered to sit in the District of Columbia.

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§726.304   Notice of initial assessment.

(a) After an operator receives notification under §726.303 and fails to secure its obligations for the period defined in §726.302(b), and following the completion of any investigation, the Director may issue a notice of initial penalty assessment in accordance with the criteria set forth in §726.302.

(b)(1) A copy of such notice shall be sent by certified mail to the operator. If the operator is a corporation, a copy shall also be sent by certified mail to each of the persons who served as president, secretary, or treasurer of the operator during any period in which the operator was in violation of section 423 of the Act and §726.4.

(2) Where service by certified mail is not accepted by any person, the notice shall be deemed received by that person on the date of attempted delivery. Where service is not accepted, the Director may exercise discretion to serve the notice by regular mail.

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§726.305   Contents of notice.

The notice required by §726.304 shall:

(a) Identify the operator against whom the penalty is assessed, as well as the name of any other person severally liable for such penalty;

(b) Set forth the determination of the Director as to the amount of the penalty and the reason or reasons therefor;

(c) Set forth the right of each person identified in paragraph (a) of this section to contest the notice and request a hearing before the Office of Administrative Law Judges;

(d) Set forth the method for each person identified in paragraph (a) to contest the notice and request a hearing before the Office of Administrative Law Judges; and

(e) Inform any affected person that in the absence of a timely contest and request for hearing received within 30 days of the date of receipt of the notice, the Director's assessment will become final and unappealable as to that person.

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§726.306   Finality of administrative assessment.

Except as provided in §726.307(c), if any person identified as potentially liable for the assessment does not, within 30 days after receipt of notice, contest the assessment, the Director's assessment shall be deemed final as to that person, and collection and recovery of the penalty may be instituted pursuant to §726.320.

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§726.307   Form of notice of contest and request for hearing.

(a) Any person desiring to contest the Director's notice of initial assessment shall request an administrative hearing pursuant to this part. The notice of contest shall be made in writing to the Director, Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, United States Department of Labor. The notice of contest must be received no later than 30 days after the date of receipt of the notice issued under §726.304. No additional time shall be added where service of the notice is made by mail.

(b) The notice of contest shall:

(1) Be dated;

(2) Be typewritten or legibly written;

(3) State the specific issues to be contested. In particular, the person must indicate his agreement or disagreement with:

(i) The Director's determination that the person against whom the penalty is assessed is an operator subject to the requirements of section 423 of the Act and §726.4, or is the president, secretary, or treasurer of an operator, if the operator is a corporation.

(ii) The Director's determination that the operator violated section 423 of the Act and §726.4 for the time period in question; and

(iii) The Director's determination of the amount of penalty owed;

(4) Be signed by the person making the request or an authorized representative of such person; and

(5) Include the address at which such person or authorized representative desires to receive further communications relating thereto.

(c) A notice of contest filed by the operator shall be deemed a notice of contest on behalf of all other persons to the Director's determinations that the operator is subject to section 423 of the Act and §726.4 and that the operator violated those provisions for the time period in question, and to the Director's determination of the amount of penalty owed. An operator may not contest the Director's determination that a person against whom the penalty is assessed is the president, secretary, or treasurer of the operator.

(d) Failure to specifically identify an issue as contested pursuant to paragraph (b)(3) of this section shall be deemed a waiver of the right to contest that issue.

[65 FR 80097, Dec. 20, 2000, as amended at 77 FR 37287, June 21, 2012]

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§726.308   Service and computation of time.

Link to an amendment published at 86 FR 1779, Jan. 11, 2021.

(a) Service of documents under this part shall be made by delivery to the person, an officer of a corporation, or attorney of record, or by mailing the document to the last known address of the person, officer, or attorney. If service is made by mail, it shall be considered complete upon mailing. Unless otherwise provided in this subpart, service need not be made by certified mail. If service is made by delivery, it shall be considered complete upon actual receipt by the person, officer, or attorney; upon leaving it at the person's, officer's or attorney's office with a clerk or person in charge; upon leaving it at a conspicuous place in the office if no one is in charge; or by leaving it at the person's or attorney's residence.

(b) If a complaint has been filed pursuant to §726.309, two copies of all documents filed in any administrative proceeding under this subpart shall be served on the attorneys for the Department of Labor. One copy shall be served on the Associate Solicitor, Black Lung Benefits Division, Room N-2117, Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20210, and one copy on the attorney representing the Department in the proceeding.

(c) The time allowed a party to file any response under this subpart shall be computed beginning with the day following the action requiring a response, and shall include the last day of the period, unless it is a Saturday, Sunday, or federally-observed holiday, see §725.311 of Part 725 of this subchapter, in which case the time period shall include the next business day.

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§726.309   Referral to the Office of Administrative Law Judges.

(a) Upon receipt of a timely notice of contest filed in accordance with §726.307, the Director, by the Associate Solicitor for Black Lung Benefits or the Regional Solicitor for the Region in which the violation occurred, may file a complaint with the Office of Administrative Law Judges. The Director may, in the complaint, reduce the total penalty amount requested. A copy of the notice of initial assessment issued by the Director and all notices of contest filed in accordance with §726.307 shall be attached. A notice of contest shall be given the effect of an answer to the complaint for purposes of the administrative proceeding, subject to any amendment that may be permitted under this subpart and 29 CFR part 18.

(b) A copy of the complaint and attachments thereto shall be served by counsel for the Director on the person who filed the notice of contest.

(c) The Director, by counsel, may withdraw a complaint filed under this section at any time prior to the date upon which the decision of the Department becomes final by filing a motion with the Office of Administrative Law Judges or the Secretary, as appropriate. If the Director makes such a motion prior to the date on which an administrative law judge renders a decision in accordance §726.313, the dismissal shall be without prejudice to further assessment against the operator for the period in question.

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§726.310   Appointment of Administrative Law Judge and notification of hearing date.

Upon receipt from the Director of a complaint filed pursuant to §726.309, the Chief Administrative Law Judge shall appoint an Administrative Law Judge to hear the case. The Administrative Law Judge shall notify all interested parties of the time and place of the hearing.

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§726.311   Evidence.

(a) Except as specifically provided in this subpart, and to the extent they do not conflict with the provisions of this subpart, the Rules of Practice and Procedure for Administrative Hearings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges established by the Secretary at 29 CFR part 18 shall apply to administrative proceedings under this subpart.

(b) Notwithstanding 29 CFR 18.1101(b)(2), subpart B of the Rules of Practice and Procedure for Administrative Hearings Before the Office of Administrative Law Judges shall apply to administrative proceedings under this part, except that documents contained in Department of Labor files and offered on behalf of the Director shall be admissible in proceedings under this subpart without regard to their compliance with the Rules of Practice and Procedure.

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§726.312   Burdens of proof.

(a) The Director shall bear the burden of proving the existence of a violation, and the time period for which the violation occurred. To prove a violation, the Director must establish:

(1) That the person against whom the penalty is assessed is an operator, or is the president, secretary, or treasurer of an operator, if such operator is a corporation.

(2) That the operator violated section 423 of the Act and §726.4. The filing of a complaint shall be considered prima facie evidence that the Director has searched the records maintained by OWCP and has determined that the operator was not authorized to self-insure its liability under the Act for the time period in question, and that no insurance carrier reported coverage of the operator for the time period in question.

(b) The Director need not produce further evidence in support of his burden of proof with respect to the issues set forth in paragraph (a) if no party contested them pursuant to §726.307(b)(3).

(c) The Director shall bear the burden of proving the size of the operator as required by §726.302, except that if the Director has requested the operator to supply information with respect to its size under §726.303 and the operator has not fully complied with that request, it shall be presumed that the operator has more than 100 employees engaged in coal mine employment. The person or persons liable for the assessment shall thereafter bear the burden of proving the actual number of employees engaged in coal mine employment.

(d) The Director shall bear the burden of proving the operator's receipt of the notification required by §726.303, the operator's prior notice of the applicability of the Black Lung Benefits Act to its operations, and the existence of any previous assessment against the operator, the operator's principals, or the operator's officers.

(e) The person or persons liable for an assessment shall bear the burden of proving the applicability of the mitigating factors listed in §726.302(d).

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§726.313   Decision and order of Administrative Law Judge.

(a) The Administrative Law Judge shall render a decision on the issues referred by the Director.

(b) The decision of the Administrative Law Judge shall be limited to determining, where such issues are properly before him or her:

(1) Whether the operator has violated section 423 of the Act and §726.4;

(2) Whether other persons identified by the Director as potentially severally liable for the penalty were the president, treasurer, or secretary of the corporation during the time period in question; and

(3) The appropriateness of the penalty assessed by the Director in light of the factors set forth in §726.302. The Administrative Law Judge shall not render determinations on the legality of a regulatory provision or the constitutionality of a statutory provision.

(c) The decision of the Administrative Law Judge shall include a statement of findings and conclusions, with reasons and bases therefor, upon each material issue presented on the record. The decision shall also include an appropriate order which may affirm, reverse, or modify, in whole or in part, the determination of the Director.

(d) The Administrative Law Judge shall serve copies of the decision on each of the parties by certified mail.

(e) The decision of the Administrative Law Judge shall be deemed to have been issued on the date that it is rendered, and shall constitute the final order of the Secretary unless there is a request for reconsideration by the Administrative Law Judge pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section or a petition for review filed pursuant to §726.314.

(f) Any party may request that the Administrative Law Judge reconsider his or her decision by filing a motion within 30 days of the date upon which the decision of the Administrative Law Judge is issued. A timely motion for reconsideration shall suspend the running of the time for any party to file a petition for review pursuant to §726.314.

(g) Following issuance of the decision and order, the Chief Administrative Law Judge shall promptly forward the complete hearing record to the Director.

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§726.314   Review by the Secretary.

Link to an amendment published at 86 FR 1779, Jan. 11, 2021.

(a) The Director or any party aggrieved by a decision of the Administrative Law Judge may petition the Secretary for review of the decision by filing a petition within 30 days of the date on which the decision was issued. Any other party may file a cross-petition for review within 15 days of its receipt of a petition for review or within 30 days of the date on which the decision was issued, whichever is later. Copies of any petition or cross-petition shall be served on all parties and on the Chief Administrative Law Judge.

(b) A petition filed by one party shall not affect the finality of the decision with respect to other parties.

(c) If any party files a timely motion for reconsideration, any petition for review, whether filed prior to or subsequent to the filing of the timely motion for reconsideration, shall be dismissed without prejudice as premature. The 30-day time limit for filing a petition for review by any party shall commence upon issuance of a decision on reconsideration.

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§726.315   Contents.

Any petition or cross-petition for review shall:

(a) Be dated;

(b) Be typewritten or legibly written;

(c) State the specific reason or reasons why the party petitioning for review believes the Administrative Law Judge's decision is in error;

(d) Be signed by the party filing the petition or an authorized representative of such party; and

(e) Attach copies of the Administrative Law Judge's decision and any other documents admitted into the record by the Administrative Law Judge which would assist the Secretary in determining whether review is warranted.

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§726.316   Filing and service.

Link to an amendment published at 86 FR 1779, Jan. 11, 2021.

(a) Filing. All documents submitted to the Secretary shall be filed with the Secretary of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210.

(b) Number of copies. An original and four copies of all documents shall be filed.

(c) Computation of time for delivery by mail. Documents are not deemed filed with the Secretary until actually received by the Secretary either on or before the due date. No additional time shall be added where service of a document requiring action within a prescribed time was made by mail.

(d) Manner and proof of service. A copy of each document filed with the Secretary shall be served upon all other parties involved in the proceeding. Service under this section shall be by personal delivery or by mail. Service by mail is deemed effected at the time of mailing to the last known address.

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§726.317   Discretionary review.

Link to an amendment published at 86 FR 1779, Jan. 11, 2021.

(a) Following receipt of a timely petition for review, the Secretary shall determine whether the decision warrants review, and shall send a notice of such determination to the parties and the Chief Administrative Law Judge. If the Secretary declines to review the decision, the Administrative Law Judge's decision shall be considered the final decision of the agency. The Secretary's determination to review a decision by an Administrative Law Judge under this subpart is solely within the discretion of the Secretary.

(b) The Secretary's notice shall specify:

(1) The issue or issues to be reviewed; and

(2) The schedule for submitting arguments, in the form of briefs or such other pleadings as the Secretary deems appropriate.

(c) Upon receipt of the Secretary's notice, the Director shall forward the record to the Secretary.

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§726.318   Final decision of the Secretary.

Link to an amendment published at 86 FR 1780, Jan. 11, 2021.

The Secretary's review shall be based upon the hearing record. The findings of fact in the decision under review shall be conclusive if supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. The Secretary's review of conclusions of law shall be de novo. Upon review of the decision, the Secretary may affirm, reverse, modify, or vacate the decision, and may remand the case to the Office of Administrative Law Judges for further proceedings. The Secretary's final decision shall be served upon all parties and the Chief Administrative Law Judge, in person or by mail to the last known address.

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§726.319   Retention of official record.

The official record of every completed administrative hearing held pursuant to this part shall be maintained and filed under the custody and control of the Director.

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§726.320   Collection and recovery of penalty.

(a) When the determination of the amount of any civil money penalty provided for in this part becomes final, in accordance with the administrative assessment thereof, or pursuant to the decision and order of an Administrative Law Judge, or following the decision of the Secretary, the amount of the penalty as thus determined is immediately due and payable to the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. The person against whom such penalty has been assessed or imposed shall promptly remit the amount thereof, as finally determined, to the Secretary by certified check or by money order, made payable to the order of U.S. Department of Labor, Black Lung Program. Such remittance shall be delivered or mailed to the Director.

(b) If such remittance is not received within 30 days after it becomes due and payable, it may be recovered in a civil action brought by the Secretary in any court of competent jurisdiction, in which litigation the Secretary shall be represented by the Solicitor of Labor.

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