Boyd & Jenerette Partners Randy Dow and Michael Childers recently obtained a court order vacating a safety violation assessed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) against a client of the firm. Although Florida is not known for mining operations, MSHA governs phosphate mines and numerous production facilities, including cement factories. Dow and Childers appealed the MSHA violation and ultimately conducted a two-day bench trial before a federal judge in Miami. After several months of deliberation, the judge issued a 26-page opinion completely exonerating the firm’s client and vacating the violation in its entirety.
MSHA imposes strict liability on virtually every contractor that provides services in a “mining facility.” Ultimately, Dow and Childers convinced the court that other contractors had caused the hazardous condition in the facility and, importantly, that the firm’s client had no ability to control or prevent the misconduct of the other contractor. This hard-fought victory required Dow and Childers to discredit the initial investigation and to rebut the opinions of a government expert brought in from Washington DC to assist MSHA’s trial counsel. The outcome not only provided immediate financial relief for the firm’s client, but also protection from reputational damage and defense of its unsullied safety record.