A Missouri federal judge has awarded $51.7 million to a class of former Anheuser-Busch Co. workers who were denied a company-promised boost in pension payments after the unit they worked for was sold. The judgment by U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr., issued on Sept. 27, came four years after the workers first won in district court and two years after they won again on appeal.
The lawsuit claimed Anheuser-Busch refused to pay the enhanced pensions its plan promised workers would receive if the company laid them off within three years of a change in control. The workers said the company’s $52 billion merger with InBev in 2008 constituted a change in control and their employment with Anheuser-Busch was essentially terminated once Blackstone bought Busch Entertainment the next year.
When the Eighth Circuit returned the case to Judge Limbaugh, it told him to calculate what Anheuser-Busch should have given the workers in extra pension benefits after selling its theme park unit, Busch Entertainment Corp., to the private equity firm Blackstone Group in 2009. Judge Limbaugh calculated $51.7 million, which will go to Anheuser-Busch pension plan participants who were employed by Busch Entertainment Corp. when it was sold.
The workers are represented by Joseph R. Dulle and Paul J. Puricelli of Stone Leyton & Gershman PC, Joe D. Jacobson and Allen P. Press of Jacobson Press PC and Scott J. Stitt of Tucker Ellis LLP. The case is Knowlton et al. v. Anheuser-Busch Companies Pension Plan et al. (case number 4:13-cv-00210) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation section are handling similar claims of employees whose pensions are in jeopardy due to corporate mergers or similar circumstances. For more information on these types of claims, contact Dee Miles, the Fraud Section Head.
This story appears in the October 2019 issue of The Jere Beasley Report. For more like this, visit the Report online and subscribe.