Appeals court: Peabody liable for retiree benefits

Appeals court: Peabody liable for retiree benefits

ST. LOUIS (AP) - An appeals court says coal producer Peabody Energy Corp. remains obligated to continue health-care benefits for some 3,100 retirees of 1 its former holdings after all.

A three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals' bankruptcy panel on Wednesday overturned a St. Louis bankruptcy judge's May ruling in St. Louis-based Peabody's favor.

The dispute affects the largely Midwestern retirees of Heritage Coal Co. and was linked to the bankruptcy of Patriot Coal Corp., which Peabody also spun off in 2007.

A message was left Wednesday seeking Peabody comment about the appellate ruling.

Patriot earlier this year sued Peabody, seeking to ensure Peabody didn't try to use the bankruptcy to avoid the debated health-care obligations.

The head of the United Mine Workers of America union calls Wednesday's ruling "bright ray of good news."

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