Public Service Company of New Mexico v Baraboan et al.

Company field an interlocutory appeal challenging the dismissal of its eminent domain utility right of way claim against two parcels fractionally owned by the Navajo Nation. The panel affirmed. It held tha25 USC 357 only allows eminent domain in land allotted to individual Indians, does not allow eminent domain claims against tribal lands as tribal lands are not in the text of the statute, this conclusion is consistent with longstanding executive branch interpretations and the only federal circuit opinion on the subject and the fact that changes in federal policy limit the availability of eminent domain does not change the outcome. The panel reminded company they could negotiate a voluntary right of way with the Navajo Nation. It denied a pipeline company’s motion to intervene as Company had identical legal interests here and the pipeline company chose not to participate at the district court level.

Energy West Mining Company v Estate of Blackburn

Company petitioned for review of the reversal of an order denying black lung benefits and a later order on reamed granting benefits. The panel affirmed. It held the order denying benefits was correctly reversed as the original administrative law judge did not engage in any analysis or provide any explanation for why he weighted the medical evidence to arrive at the denial. It held the affirmance of the benefit award was correct as the remand was to evaluate the medical evidence not explain why Company won; the new administrative law judge permissibly found some of Company’s medical experts not credible as they did not cite studies which actually supported their conclusions and made no attempt to account for Blackburn’s smoking; the judge did not offer medical opinion but instead evaluated the medical evidence under the correct legal framework; did not improperly rely on the preamble to the applicable regulations as he sued it to evaluate evidence not proclaim a broad legal rule; properly considered another of Company’s expert witness opinion evidence but correctly determined it did not overcome the statutory presumption that benefits should be awarded; and any error in applying a wrong legal standard was harmless as the controlling analysis followed the correct framework.