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SCOTUS: Energy companies must face price-fixing claims

April 21, 2015

The Supreme Court of the United States says a group of energy companies can be sued under state antitrust laws for illegally manipulating natural gas prices more than a decade ago during California’s energy crisis.

The justices on Tuesday ruled 7-2 against American Electric Power Co., Duke Energy Co. and other natural gas traders arguing that federal law precludes state law claims.

Natural gas customers allege the companies falsely reported data to industry trade publications, leading to higher gas prices.

A federal District Court sided with the gas traders. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court reversed, saying retail buyers of natural gas could go forward with their lawsuit.

The Supreme Court agreed, saying the state claims at issue are directed at retail pricing within the province of states and not pre-empted by federal law.
 

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