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Price gouging evokes history lessons that described the robber barons who manipulated prices around the turn of the 20th century. As several natural gas producers recently found out, antitrust law is as strong as ever.
Several class action lawsuits filed by consumers who purchased natural gas recently settled out of court. The primary plaintiffs claim the defendants and co-conspirators cooperated to manipulate the price of natural gas between January 1, 2000 and October 31, 2002. Because of the price collusion, consumers paid more for natural gas than they would have paid if the defendants and co-conspirators had engaged in legal pricing practices.
According to court documents, the plaintiffs brought the class action lawsuits against American Electric Power Company Inc., AEP Energy Services Inc., Coral Energy Resources LP n/k/a Shell Energy North America (US) LP, Duke Energy Carolinas LLC f/k/a Duke Energy Corporation, Duke Energy Trading and Marketing LLC, ONEOK Inc., ONEOK Energy Services Company LP f/k/a ONEOK Energy Marketing & Trading Company LP, and Kansas Gas Marketing Company.
The large group of defendants and co-conspirators agreed to the multiple class action settlements to avoid the cost and risk of a prolonged civil trial. Preliminary approval for the class action settlement came on January 26, 2017, with a judge granting final approval of the settlement on May 17, 2017.
Litigation against the a few other defendants and co-conspirators is pending because the defense refuses to settle the natural gas antitrust class action lawsuits.
What You Need To Know
Eligible class members “include industrial or commercial direct purchasers of natural gas for your own use or consumption between Jan. 1, 2000 and Oct. 31, 2002, and the gas was used or consumed by you in Kansas, Missouri or Wisconsin.” Court documents reveal the potential award will be determined on a pro rata basis, which divides the entire settlement fund among class members who file valid and timely claim forms. Eligible class members must present documentation or any other type of evidence that proves they purchased natural gas from the defendants and co-conspirators during the eligibility period.
Eligible class members have until September 26, 2017 to submit a valid claims form. The judge presiding over the case In re: Western States Wholesale Natural Gas Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 2:03-cv-01431-RCJ-PAL, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada scheduled the final hearing on May 17, 2017, at which that time the judge formally approved the class action settlement. Refer to the class action website www.NaturalGasAntitrustSettlement.com to learn more about what transpired during the final hearing. Four attorneys represent the class counsel, while several attorneys handle the legal responsibilities for the defendants and co-conspirators. Robert Wolinsky represents AEP, Joshua Lichtman represents Coral Energy Resources LP, Joel Kleinman represented Duke, and David Bryant represents ONEOK.
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