February 8th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Doe v. Scalia, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 2421 (3d Cir. January 31, 2023 (Smith, C.J.)  Before us is the appeal by Jane Doe I et al. (“Plaintiffs”) from an order of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims. HN1[ ] The crux of this case concerns the extent to which Section 13(d) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (“OSH Act”), 1 29 U.S.C. § 662(d) gives employees a private right of action to remediate dangers in the workplace—specifically, whether an employee may maintain an action against the Secretary of Labor seeking relief for dangerous working conditions after the Department of Labor has completed enforcement proceedings. That question is a matter of first impression for this Court, and for our sister courts of appeals. For the reasons set forth below, we hold that the OSH Act mandates the dismissal of a § 662(d) claim once the Department has completed its enforcement proceedings. We will affirm the District Court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims. The text of § 662(d) gives no indication that Congress intended the “such further relief” language to permit employees to challenge OSHA’s determinations outside of the imminent-danger context. Instead, the “such further relief” language is linked to the injunctive remedy. Id. § 662(d) (authorizing employees to pursue a “writ of mandamus to compel the Secretary to seek [] an [injunction or restraining order to remedy an imminent danger] and for such further relief as may be appropriate”). The text does not state or imply that “further relief” is available outside the context of imminent dangers and the pendency of OSHA’s enforcement proceedings that are the focus of § 662’s statutory scheme. What’s more, the broad private right of action that Plaintiffs propose would undermine the OSH Act’s agency-driven enforcement structure. And it is a well-established presumption of statutory interpretation that “Congress . . . does not alter the fundamental details of a regulatory scheme in vague terms or ancillary provisions.” Whitman v. Am. Trucking Ass’ns, 531 U.S. 457, 468, 121 S. Ct. 903, 149 L. Ed. 2d 1 (2001). We conclude, therefore, that the private right embodied in § 662(d) is a narrow one, limited to combating imminent workplace dangers that cannot await the conclusion of OSHA’s enforcement proceedings.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]



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