Friday, December 6, 2013

Atlas Roofing Co. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission case brief

Atlas Roofing Co. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission case brief summary
430 U.S. 442 (1977)


CASE SYNOPSIS
The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether Congress could create a new cause of action in the government for civil penalties enforceable in an administrative agency where there was no jury trial. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the orders of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission over petitioners' objection that their U.S. Constitutional Amendment VII rights had been violated.

CASE FACTS
Petitioners were cited by the Secretary of Labor (Secretary) and ordered to immediately abate pertinent hazards after inspections of their respective work sites revealed conditions that violated a mandatory occupational safety standard promulgated by the Secretary under § 5(a)(2) of OSHA, 29 U.S.C.S. § 654(a)(2).

DISCUSSION

  • The appeals court affirmed the orders of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, rejecting petitioners' contention that the failure to afford the employer a jury trial on the question of whether he had violated OSHA was in violation of U.S. Constitutional Amendment VII. 
  • Petitioners contended that a suit in federal court by the government for civil penalties for violation of a statute was a suit for a money judgment that was classically a suit at common law. 
  • The court affirmed, holding that U.S. Constitutional Amendment VII did not prevent Congress from assigning to an administrative agency the task of adjudicating violations of OSHA without a jury because U.S. 
  • Constitutional Amendment VII was never intended to establish the jury as the exclusive mechanism for factfinding in civil cases.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed and held that petitioners' Seventh Amendment rights were not violated by orders of agency finding without a jury that petitioners violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act because Congress could assign to an agency the task of adjudicating violations of the statute without a jury.

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