Jo Anne B. Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security, Petitioner v. Peabody Coal Company, et al.; Jo Anne B. Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security, Petitioner v. Bellaire Corporation, et al.; Michael H. Holland, et al., Petitioners v. Bellaire Corporation, et al.
123 S. Ct. 748; 154 L. Ed. 2d 653; 2003 U.S. LEXIS 752; 71 U.S.L.W. 4041; 29 Employee Benefits Cas. (BNA) 2089; 2003 Cal. Daily Op. Service 419; 2003 Daily Journal DAR 501; 16 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 35
On writs of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Peabody Coal Co. v. Massanari, 14 Fed. Appx. 393, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 14471 (2001). Bellaire Corp. v. Massanari, 14 Fed. Appx. 424, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 14784 (2001)
Coal Industry Retiree Health Benefit Act of 1992 stated that "The Commissioner of Social Security shall, before October 1, 1993, assign each coal industry retiree eligible for benefits under the Act to an extant operating company responsible for funding the beneficiary's benefits". The assignment to an operator, binds the operator to pay an annual premium to the United Mine Workers of America, Combined Benefit Fund which administers the benefits. The question before the court was whether eligible retirees who were not assigned to an operator by the October 1st date could not be assigned after that, thus freeing the company they would have been assigned to of obligation. The mining companies argued the date in the statute limited the commissioner's ability to sign while the commissioner(s) argued it had been set as a spur to timely completion and could be assigned after that date.
The court, citing precedent, ruled that the assignments could be made after the date and interpreted that "congress had intended the work to be done by that date not that it could not be done after that date".