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Appeals Court: Peabody Liable for Retiree Benefits
Written by Your 5News Team
Last updated on August 21, 2013 @ 10:55PM
Created on August 21, 2013 @ 4:26PM
ST. LOUIS (AP) - 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."

"Peabody is pleased with today's ruling by the Eighth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel. The court said that Peabody was obligated to make payments (that have been consistently paid) until such time as a new labor agreement was approved between Patriot and the UMWA.

The Panel did not rule on how Peabody's level of funding would be determined with this new agreement in place: "We are not concerned with, and express no opinion on, what effect a new labor agreement would have on Peabody Holding's obligation to the assumed retirees."

Now that a new labor agreement has been approved, the provisions of the contract with Patriot will apply and any future funding levels are yet to be determined."

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