Judge approves $23M settlement for Century Aluminum employees

By Kyla Asbury | Aug 15, 2017

CHARLESTON – District Judge John Copenhaver approved a $23 million settlement for Century Aluminum employee who lost their retirement benefits, ending a lawsuit filed nearly eight years ago.

At the fairness hearing on Aug. 14, Copenhaver stated that he was satisfied with the fairness, adequacy and reasonableness of the settlement. The hearing lasted 11 minutes.

“Class members were given an opportunity to speak and no one chose to,” the District Judge Daybook Entry states. ”Judge Copenhaver will try to enter final order within a few days.”

With the settlement, more than 750 former employees will have their health care benefits restored.

The $23 million settlement will be paid by Century Aluminum over the course of 10 years. It will pay $5 million this year to establish a fund and then $2 million each year after that to support the fund.

The dispute arose in 2009 when Century Aluminum announced it would modify its retiree medical benefits program for retires of the Ravenswood facility, according to an Aug. 8 memorandum of law in support of the parties’ joint motion for final approval of the settlement.

The parties each filed suit in different courts and they were consolidated into litigation before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at Charleston.

Earlier this year, the parties reached a proposed settlement agreement. On May 31, the court granted preliminary approval of the settlement agreement, finding that it was “within the range of possible final approval as being fair, reasonable and adequate.”

Class members were required to file objections if they disagreed with it by July 24 and no class members filed an objection.

Eight named plaintiffs will receive enhancement awards ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, for a total of $31,000, according to the memorandum.

The plaintiffs are represented by William T. Payne, Stephen M. Pincus and Pamina G. Ewing of Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec; Bradley J. Pyles of Pyles Haviland Turner & Smith; and Joseph P. Stuligross of United Steel Workers of America.

The defendants are represented by George J. Asimou, Sarah B. McClure, E. Michael Rossman and Stanley Weiner of Jones Day; and Ricklin Brown and Mark H. Dellinger of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:09-cv-01546

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