CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed against Peabody Energy and Arch Coal.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin ruled in favor of the companies Friday after they sought to have the class-action suit dismissed.

The United Mine Workers of America and eight active and retired miners filed the lawsuit back in October 2012.

The suit alleged the companies illegally shifted their obligations to workers and retirees to Patriot Coal. The suit claimed that such a move was illegal under federal law.

In Goodwin’s 13-page ruling, he said the actions by Peabody and Arch did not violate the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). He said the law doesn’t protect a pension fund’s financial stability.

In a statement released Friday, UMWA President Cecil Roberts said they are disappointed by the decision and they plan to appeal it.

“Our members who are at risk of losing the retiree health care benefits Peabody and Arch promised them clearly earned those benefits,” Roberts stated. “We will continue to fight for them in every possible venue until those benefits are secure.”

Roberts added that they “believe the decision fails to recognize the purpose of ERISA, which is to protect the benefits employees have earned.”

The lawsuit against Peabody and Arch was part of a larger effort to to protect pensions and health-care benefits for its miners at Patriot, who is currently undergoing financial reorganization in bankruptcy court.

Patriot filed for bankruptcy in July 2012 citing financial troubles. A bankruptcy judge allowed Patriot’s plan to cut many employee and retiree benefits, but the UMWA negotiated a new deal in which the company reinstated many of those benefits.

Since that time the UMWA has focused its fight on Peabody and Arch.

bubble graphic

16

bubble graphic

Comments

  • leroy j gibbs

    COAL IS WEST VIRGINIA!

  • wvrefugee

    So happy King Coal is sticking it to us again!

  • TOM

    awesome ruling,,,those greedy unions will learn someday, hopefully before they bankrupt more companies

  • Game Over

    Good for the companies. The UMWA is not as honest as it used to be. They so more than good. Cecil Roberts is a liar and a crook. Where are all the union dues that miners paid into relief and help funds. The miners need to abandon the union and work for nonunion companies. The UMWA and the AFl-CIO are losing membership and will both die soon. Good riddance!

  • Dr. Sarcasm

    If you want communism, move to China, or vote for Hillary

  • WV Redneck

    The contract that a business has with its employees, which legally meets all the criteria of a binding legal contract and is usually the only existing financial contract a business undergoing bankruptcy usually has aside from loans is also somehow the only one our courts fail to recognize as legit.

    Funny how the banks and other debtors are recognized and are awarded relief in bankruptcy but the employees are awarded the shaft.

    How any judge can do this and bring such harm to the debtors that most deserve to be paid what they are owed, the employees, is a travesty, immoral and shows beyond any doubt that a business's best interest is the only thing our laws truly consider.

  • wvtd

    well, at least the good friend of union men everywhere has seen to it that every person in this nation will soon get free health care. obamacare is there for you. you can trust in barrac, he has your back and the government cares. just ask joe manchin, a real friend to the working women and men in all of west Virginia.

    • Wilda

      I'll trust Obama over you any day, tdvw.
      Love,
      Wil

      • wvtd

        get a job, use your Obama phone and find a job somewhere. maybe mcds or wendys.

        • leroy j gibbs

          Just look around at your local walmart and see what wv consists of anymore

      • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

        Not me or any of my friends of which I have plenty. Obama is all for the sick, lame and lazy. Not for the working and self enriching population.

        • TOM

          working? self enriching? in west virginia? hahahahahahhaahahahaaaaaa where?

          • wvtd

            me, you, wvirginian for life and many,many more.

  • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

    Someday soon. Anarchy will rain down on all the corrupt police, attorneys, judges and crooked wealthy in this nation. I hope I am alive to witness it.

    • Rick

      What about the thieves among the poor and middle class who steal from us every day? A thief is a thief, whether wealthy or poor, and all should be punished.