AK STEEL: Retirees’ lawsuit aims to protect health benefits

July 19, 2006 – Acting more than two months before AK Steel Corp. planned to increase health care costs for some retirees, a group filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Middletown steelmaker in federal court.

But it’s a case of dueling federal lawsuits: When AK announced last month that it would revise some retiree health insurance benefits, it filed its own suit seeking declaratory judgment that its plans were lawful, an AK spokesman said.

Nine retirees are named as plaintiffs in the complaint filed Tuesday. But attorney David Cook said 4,285 retired hourly workers and 125 salaried workers are “putative class members” or situated similarly to the named plaintiffs.

Cook pledged to seek class-action status for the suit. And he wants a preliminary injunction to block AK’s plans.

“I emphatically say that I’m not going to take it. We’re not going to take it,” said AK/Armco retiree Rudolph Pringle, 73, standing on the Walnut Street steps of the Potter Stewart courthouse.

Many retirees can’t bear the kind of increased costs AK is contemplating, said Ralph Bush, 72.

“Eventually, it’s going to take your pension,” Bush said.

Read the entire Middletown Journal article here.