With an apparent stalemate in settlement negotiations, the California Attorney General Bill Lockyer will file a lawsuit against Sempra Energy’s trading unit alleging “Enron-like” wholesale energy market manipulation tactics during the western energy crisis four years.
The lawsuit will be filed Wednesday morning in a California Superior Court in Sacramento, according to Tom Dresslar, a spokesperson for the Lockyer’s AG’s Office. Dresslar indicated that the settlement talks with Sempra Energy Trading have reached a point where Lockyer’s office decided it had to litigate, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Tuesday, the trading unit’s parent company, San Diego-based Sempra Energy, noted there was “no assurance” that its ongoing settlement negotiations with many parties would be “successful or continue.”
In the SEC filing, it said the “additional litigation and legal proceedings” could be instituted against the company if the settlement discussions continued to be unsuccessful. The filing specifically stated that the California Attorney General could be bringing additional legal action.
With a jury trial currently ongoing in another Superior Court in San Diego County involving a class action lawsuit alleging natural gas supply/price manipulation against Sempra and its two California utilities — Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas and Electric — Sempra attorneys on Tuesday forewarned the judge in the case about AG Lockyer’s impending action, which they are worried could “have an inflammatory effect” on the jury, according to a report in the LA Times.
The news report quoted Sempra attorney Bob Cooper as saying a lawsuit at this time by Lockyer’s office would be “irresponsible and inappropriate.”
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