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Case Developments

West v. AK Steel Case Update, March, 2008

More than six years ago we started our pension-rights class action -- John D. West v. AK Steel Corp. Retirement Accumulation Pension Plan, et al. -- with the filing of our suit's Complaint in January 2002. After pursuing the necessary preliminary steps and completing the preparation of the record for the district court's review and consideration, the district court certified our suit as a class action of 1,230 members in 2004, and later that year we won all the liability issues. In 2005, we succeeded on the primary issues affecting the quantification of the retirement benefits that the district court determined AK Steel owes its retirees -- you, and your fellow Class Members. In February 2006, the district court entered its Final Judgment in our favor.

In March of 2006, the defendants appealed the district court's decisions against them, and the litigation was submitted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for its review. The parties finished submitting their written arguments in mid-September of 2006, and then we presented oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit in March 2007. In April 2007, that panel issued a unanimous decision affirming in all respects the district court's decisions in our favor. You can view a copy of the appellate court's decision here. In May 2007, AK petitioned the Court of Appeals to rehear our appeal. That petition was denied in August of 2007.

AK Steel then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by filing with that court on November 16, 2007, a petition asking that the Supreme Court take our case for its review. We opposed AK's request that the Supreme Court take our case. If you would like to have a PDF copy of AK's petition, our brief in opposition, or AK's reply brief e-mailed to you, please contact Ms. Aileen Fonda at AFonda@GNTLaw.com.

Because the petitioner is the first-named party in the Supreme Court, the name or title of a lawsuit can often get switched around when it makes it way to the Supreme Court. That's what has happened with our case, so that our lawsuit is known in the Supreme Court as AK Steel Corp. Retirement Accumulation Pension Plan v. West, No. 07-663. The Supreme Court's online-accessible docket for our case can be viewed on the Supreme Court website.

Our case was on the Supreme Court's agenda for its January 18 conference, at which time we had thought that the Court would decide whether or not it was going to accept our case for its review. No decision in our case came out of that conference, nor out of the Court's next three conferences. It thus appears that AK's petition, and our case, is still pending with the Supreme Court.

There can be all sorts of guessing as to why the Court has not yet issued an Order on AK's petition, after having held four conferences consequent to which such an Order could have issued. But that would all be speculation. I can tell you that the Supreme Court has not yet decided to take our case, and that is a good thing. We firmly believe that the law and the facts fully support the decisions of the district court and the affirmance of those decisions by the court of appeals, that those decisions and affirmance are in the mainstream of well-accepted ERISA pension jurisprudence, and, thus, that there is no reason for the Supreme Court to take our case for its review. Accordingly, we'd much prefer that the Supreme Court deny AK's petition.

The Supreme Court scheduled more than a dozen future conferences, before the conclusion of its term which ended June 2008, at which it could rule on AK's petition.  The Orders consequent to a conference are normally posted on the Court's website the next business day. I suggest that you occasionally visit our case's online-accessible docket in the Supreme Court, at http://origin.www.supremecourtus.gov/docket/07-663.htm, where any decision will be posted.

If the Supreme Court decides it does not wish to hear our case on appeal, then our case will return to the district court in Cincinnati for conclusion, where there will be quite a few steps that must be taken and completed before there can be any distributions to Class Members. Those steps include a determination by the district court of the manner by which distributions are to be made, in the course of which it might be decided that Class Members will be given a roll-over option.

And, of course, there is the possibility (but certainly not the probability) that the Supreme Court will take our case, and could even possibly modify the decisions reached thus far in our favor.

So, we're not finished yet, but so far, so good.

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