A federal appeals court is letting American Family Insurance of Madison file an immediate appeal of a ruling that the company’s agents are employees and not independent contractors. In August, District Judge Donald Nugent of northern Ohio affirmed a jury verdict that American Family must pay its agents retirement benefits totaling up to one-billion dollars — a figure the company says is “grossly exaggerated.” Previous cases have found that insurance agents are independent contractors. But Nugent says American Family treats its agents like employees, by banning them from joining competing firms for one year after they leave. Four former American Family agents filed suit in 2013, and it was expanded to a class action suit last year which made seven-thousand present and former agents plaintiffs in the case.