EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSAppeals Court: Peabody Liable For Retiree Benefits
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Associated Press
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Aug. 21, 2013 6:32 PM EDT
St. Louis, Mo. , Ohio
An appeals court says coal producer Peabody Energy Corp. remains obligated to continue health-care benefits for some 3,100 retirees of one its former holdings after all.
A three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals' bankruptcy panel on Wednesday overturned a St. Louis bankruptcy judge's May ruling in St. Louis-based Peabody's favor.
The dispute affects the largely Midwestern retirees of Heritage Coal Co. and was linked to the bankruptcy of Patriot Coal Corp., which Peabody also spun off in 2007.
A message was left Wednesday seeking Peabody comment about the appellate ruling.
Patriot earlier this year sued Peabody, seeking to ensure Peabody didn't try to use the bankruptcy to avoid the debated health-care obligations.
The head of the United Mine Workers of America union calls Wednesday's ruling "bright ray of good news."
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockerfeller, D-W.Va., responded to the ruling.
"Peabody’s attempt to shed its obligations to union miners was unjust, unfair and unconscionable," Rockefeller said in a news release. "I’m incredibly pleased that an appeals panel recognized that and overturned a decision that would have broken a solemn promise Peabody made. It’s another ray of hope for retirees who worked day and night to provide for their families. Still, protecting the health benefits and pensions of our coal miners is something we all must continue fighting for—and I pledge to do all I can to make sure it never comes to this again.”
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