McDonnell Douglas Settlement Approved

September 2, 2004 ( - A federal court has ended the decade-old lawsuit against McDonnell Douglas on Thursday, approving a previously agreed to settlement which will pay $81 million in back wages to former employees in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the company shut down a plant in 1994.

>Under the agreement, which the parties agreed to earlier in the summer, former workers at McDonnell Douglas’ military aircraft plant will receive about $5,800 each after attorneys fees are factored in, according to the Associated Press.

>In 2001, US Chief District Judge Sven Erik Holmes ruled that McDonnell Douglas violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in shutting down the factory to save about $25 million in benefits covered by the act. The parties then agreed upon a $36 million dollar settlement regarding pension and health benefits, but the issue of back wages was not settled. McDonnell Douglas appealed Holmes’ ruling, stating that back wages should not be included in workers claims. After a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ May ruling that the act kept the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit from receiving back pay, settlement discussions followed, with the eventual agreement being approved today.

“I don’t think anything about it is fair,” said Wiley Sears, 59, a former plant worker, to the AP. “The main thing now is we have to live with it.”

“If everyone in the class is not entirely happy with this settlement, I can tell you the company isn’t either,” McDonnell Douglas attorney Tom Wack said to the AP.

>McDonnell Douglas, after merging with industry giant Boeing Co. in 1997, is now headquartered in Chicago.