Federal judge chides Labor Dept. actions against Dayton Tire

Michael P. Tremoglie Mar. 15, 2012, 12:26pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- A federal judge has chided the Department of Labor for dawdling in case involving Dayton Tire.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote the majority opinion March 6 in the case of Dayton Tire v. Secretary of Labor. She also said it lacked substantial evidence in issuing Dayton a fine of $1.975 million

A three-judge panel heard the appeal of a 2010 order by the DOL's Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, which affirmed nearly all of the 100 "willful" violations against Dayton Tire Co., a division of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. The Commission also affirmed the assessment the penalty.

Dayton initially was served with the citation in 1994. The Clinton administration's Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, personally served the company. Dayton was cited for more than 100 alleged willful violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Dayton contested the action by DOL. The appeal went to the OSHRC in 1997. It remained there until OSHRC issued the 2010 order.

The judge wrote in her opinion that while the Court cannot set aside the order because of the "Commission's lengthy delay" and that the .
"Commission's dawdling" did not invalidate the order, the Court concurred. with Dayton that the Commission "lacked substantial supporting evidence for its finding that the violations were willful." So the Court "vacated that portion of the order" and remanded the case back to the Commission to "reassess Dayton's level of culpability."

Brown, however, made a caustic comment about the Commission's incredibly lengthy delay and neglect.

"We trust the Commission will act before the decade is out," she wrote.

President George W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit in 2003. Senate Democrats opposed her nomination until 2005. Prior to becoming a federal judge she was an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court from 1996 until 2005.

According to various newspaper articles referenced in a Wikipedia biography, Brown was born in Alabama to a sharecropper. She attended segregated schools as a youth. She graduated in 1974 from California State University, Sacramento and obtained her law degree from UCLA in 1977.

A Washington Post article quoted her as saying that she was nearly a Maoist when she was a student. Now, however, she considers herself a conservative.

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