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CHICAGO — The value of U.S. settlements related to wage and hour disputes and those under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act were larger last year than those tied to employment discrimination for the first time in five years, the law firm Seyfarth Shaw said in an annual report on such class action litigation. The firm, which specializes in complex employment defense work, said in the report that the value of settlements under ERISA totaled $1.82 billion with a few cases making a large contribution to that figure. The value included big settlements related to healthcare benefits sought in lawsuits brought by retirees in the rustbelt region, said Gerald Maatman, Jr., the Seyfarth Shaw attorney who spearheaded the report. The payout related to wage and hour disputes was $319.3 million and $282.1 million for employment discrimination. The total for all settlements last year was $2.65 billion, more than double the $1.05 billion in 2006. The 468-page report analyzed the settlements and 508 state and federal decisions from 2007. Seyfarth Shaw was founded in Chicago and now has about 750 attorneys in eight U.S. offices, including New York and Los Angeles, as well as Brussels.

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