April 28 — A group of more than 1,700 Constellium Rolled Products retirees seeking lifetime health benefits at no cost can proceed as two certified subclasses, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia ruled.
Judge Joseph R. Goodwin granted the retirees' unopposed motion for certification of subclasses in an April 25 order.
One subclass consists of hourly, union-represented employees who retired from an aluminum fabrication plant before 2003 and who were subject to average annual benefit caps under the retiree health plan. The other subclass consists of hourly, union-represented employees who retired before Sept. 17, 2012, and who were subject to the Medicare Part B subsidy cap.
In addition to finding the proposed subclasses sufficiently numerous under Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court also found that the subclassmembers shared common questions of law and fact, because each subclassmember opposed the same decision by Constellium to reduce retiree health insurance.
Moreover, the proposed class representatives satisfied Rule 23(a)'s typicality requirement, the court said, because both representatives were “typical elderly, blue-collar retirees who allege that their retiree benefits are being improperly reduced or terminated.”
The subclasses met Rule 23(a)'s adequacy requirement as well, the court said, because the proposed class representatives had the same stake in the outcome of the case as the other classmembers.
Finally, the court found that class certification under Rule 23(b)(1)(A) was appropriate, because the relevant collective bargaining agreement required Constellium to treat all participants equally.
The retirees were represented by Pyles Haviland Turner & Smith LLP and Stember Feinstein Doyle Payne & Kravec LLC. Constellium was represented by Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP and Steptoe & Johnson LLP.
Text of the opinion is at http://www2.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/Barton_et_al_v_Constellium_Rolled_ProductsRavenswood_LLC_et_al_20/1.
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