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Case Developments

West v. AK Steel Case Update, February, 2007

It's been more than half-a-decade since we started working on our class action for pension rights -- John D. West v. AK Steel Corp. Retirement Accumulation Pension Plan, et al. -- initiating suit with our Complaint filed back in January 2002, and as you know we've come a long way since then. The district court certified the suit as a class action with 1,230 members, we succeeded on the liability issues, and we won the best of the issues on how to quantify the retirement benefits that the court determined AK Steel owes its retirees. But in late March of 2006 the defendants appealed the district court's decisions against them, and now the litigation is in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, as case number 06-3442. The parties finished submitting their written arguments in mid-September, and just last week the court of appeals scheduled oral arguments in our case for March 16, 2007. After that argument is presented, the appellate court will take the time necessary to reflect upon and resolve the parties' positions. We may receive a decision in the appeal in 2008 if not 2007. If, as we hope and expect, the appellate court's decision goes against the Plan, AK can ask for the court of appeals to rehear the case and/or can ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, but those options are limited.

Thus, we certainly are still some time away from making any distributions to Class Members. Indeed, whether we retain the victories we won in the district court, and thus whether there will be any distributions at all, completely resides with the court of appeals. We will have to wait upon its decisions to know whether distributions will be made and, if so, in what amounts. We remain firm in our conviction that the defendants' arguments on appeal will be rejected as the district court's decisions against them are well-founded in both law and fact.

I do not believe that the new Congress, even a Democratic Congress, will much affect the outcome of our lawsuit. As you know, AK's lawyers are arguing in the court of appeals that, although the underpayments of the lump-sum distributions occurred years ago, the recompenses ordered by the district court are new "distributions" after the effective date of the Pension Protection Act and therefore are barred. We have strenuously countered that argument, and we don't think it should carry much weight with the court of appeals, but maybe the new Congress could make something of a technical correction to the Act to assist us. That's something we're pursuing now, and we'll just have to continuing working on the possibility of bolstering our case legislatively.

You can view the docket in the appeal with the "Public Access to Court Electronic Records" (PACER) system of the federal courts. First you will have to register at https://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/psco/cgi-bin/regform.pl. Then you can access the appeal's online docket by navigating to case number 06-3442 from https://pacer.login.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl?court_id=06ca.

Access to PACER will generate a charge of eight cents per HTML-formatted page, whether or not pages are printed, viewed, or downloaded. You will be billed on a quarterly basis for your transactions. But no fee is owed until a user accrues more than $10.00 worth of charges in a calendar year. Consequently, if your PACER account does not accrue $10.00 worth of usage between January 1st and December 31st each year, all balances will be deleted from the PACER records.

You may use your PACER account to review the online docket in our appeal as well as the dockets of nearly every federal district and appellate court. You may also use your PACER account to download actual case filings from those district and appellate courts which provide those services via their Electronic Court Filing (ECF) systems. 

We urge you to contact us whenever you have questions on the suit's status, or any concern with the status or conduct of the litigation.

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