AK Steel Corp., Middletown, Ohio, violated ERISA when its cash balance plan calculated lump sums for employees who quit their jobs before retirement, according to a ruling in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. In an April 8 decision, Judge Sandra S. Beckwith agreed with plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit that AK Steel's pension plan was legally bound to distribute the present value of annuities as lump sums at age 65, not the amounts equal to the balance in participants' hypothetical accounts. The judge granted the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment and denied the company's efforts to have the court dismiss the case. The case will now proceed on the issue of damages. Gregory P. Kuzma, treasurer of AK Steel, declined comment. The plan has $2.9 billion in assets, according to the Money Market Directory.