Appeals Court: Peabody Liable For Heritage Retirees Benefits

Aug 21, 2013

Peabody Energy will have to pay health benefits for retirees of a former subsidiary after an appeals court reversed a federal bankruptcy judge’s decision.

The ruling Wednesday from the three-judge US Court of Appeals bankruptcy panel affects 3,100 retirees attached to Heritage Coal.

Peabody had earlier agreed to continue paying retiree health benefits when Heritage was spun off along with Patriot in 2007.

But the St. Louis-based corporation argued that agreement ended this year when the now bankrupt Patriot asked a federal judge to allow it to alter collective bargaining agreements.

Patriot sued Peabody over the move.

Peabody has so far not replied to a request for comment.

The ruling does not affect a bankruptcy judge’s approval Tuesday of a settlement between Patriot and the United Mine Workers of America over wages and health benefits for current and retired workers.

The agreement creates a health care trust fund for retired miners.

But the UMWA is seeking full health care benefits for those retirees in a lawsuit filed against Peabody.

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