A federal judge dismissed a notice from the U.S. Secretary of Labor finding that a Patriot Coal subsidiary displayed a "pattern of violations" in its operations.
The subsidiary, Brody Mining, had been cited with 54 orders concerning mine safety or health hazards. Those orders caused Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez to find that a pattern of violations existed.
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission Judge William B. Moran disagreed. In his decision dated Saturday, he wrote that Perez had failed to define what a pattern of violations entailed. The secretary's failure to define was, in Moran's words, "patently unfair" and "almost rigged."
Moran's decision follows the deaths of two miners in May at Patriot's Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County.
Moran's decision can be appealed.