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Judge OKs settlement in Anchor Glass suit

Post Time:Jul 28,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:508

A federal judge in Pittsburgh has approved a settlement for former employees of Anchor Glass in Connellsville.

U.S. District Court Judge David S. Cercone approved a $480,000 settlement between the former glass plant employees and Cerberus Capital Management, the primary stockholder of the now-bankrupt Anchor Glass. Anchor closed without warning on Nov. 4, 2004. The class action suit had alleged that the company violated the Worker Adjustment Retraining Act by not providing written warning 60 days prior to the closure.

Prior to the negotiated settlement attorneys for Cerberus Capital had argued that the employees were paid severance under the union contract and so were not entitled to additional compensation under the WARN Act, but attorney Gregory Kunkel of Uniontown noted that the WARN Act is separate from other legal obligations a company may have under contract.

"We understand that the management people accepted a severance agreement. We were just dealing with the hourly workers who weren´t given that opportunity. Most of them did get some type of severance and under the collective bargaining agreement that covered these employees, they did get notification pay," Kunkel said.

Cercone ordered the $480,000 to be placed in an escrow account within 35 days, but Kunkel said there is no way to know exactly when the funds will be disbursed to the former employees. The court will determine the legal fees to be paid from the account and the two named class representatives, former quality inspector Douglas Wissler and former machinist Gregory Vinoski, will receive a premium payment of $7,500 each.

"That not unusual, given the work that they did, working with our office, attending hearings and providing information," Kunkel said.

The remainder of the funds will be divided equally between the remaining 246 former employees who filed claims against the company by June 19, 2009. Kunkel said approximately 275 people were eligible to file claims, but some had either already settled with the company or otherwise chose not to participate in the lawsuit.

"What was negotiated was that people who had already settled a claim with Anchor could not collect again," Kunkel said.

Although Cerberus agreed to the settlement, Kunkel said the investment firm denied liability under the WARN Act by virtue of their stock ownership or that Anchor violated that WARN Act in closing the plant.

Source: Anchor Glass /The Herald StandardAuthor: shangyi

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