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Though Long-Gone as a Company, the Court Battle Over Hoover Retiree Benefits Continues

Hoover plant
M.L. Schultze

A years-long court battle over health benefits for retirees of the former Hoover Co. of North Canton may be coming to an end.  

In 2011, five years after buyingt the remnants of the Hoover Co., Whirlpool Corp. halted full medical benefits for Hoover retirees. Suits were filed, and in 2014, U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson said Whirlpool couldn’t do that.

But, two questions remained: Even if it can’t eliminate the benefits, could Whirlpool modify them; and, if so, how much?

Testimony has now been given on those issues, and Brian Zimmerman, an attorney for the retirees, says this may be the last phase of the case.

“We expect that we will get a decision from the judge in the next couple of months, to the next few months, and I think she’s going to rule on both of those issues.”

More than 2,000 former Hoover employees will be affected.

In a statement, Whirlpool said its plan—which would move the retirees’ health coverage to Medicare and provide stipends for buying supplemental insurance—was to create flexibility for the former workers.