A California Superior Court in San Diego last Friday ordered more than $100 million distributed of the $1.8 billion El Paso Energy Co. settlement for the non-core customer claimants from the first half of an anti-trust conspiracy lawsuit filed against El Paso and Sempra Energy’s two major natural gas utilities, according to one of the local law firms that filed the original lawsuit, Baker, Burton and Lundy, Hermosa Beach, CA.
Separately, the same law firm is one of the teams of plaintiffs’ lawyers currently pursuing a multi-billion-dollar class action case against Sempra in a trial now ongoing in a San Diego Superior Court proceeding that began last October and is expected to consume several more months. Two other cases aimed at Sempra are pending after filings in the past month by the California Attorney General’s Office.
It was two years ago that the California Superior Court in San Diego approved the El Paso settlement, which is the largest anti-trust, class action agreement ever reached by the state (see, NGI, Dec. 9, 2003). Since then, the distributions were made to utility ratepayers in four western states, but the large industrial customers (non-core) buying their own gas supplies had not received any of the monies.
“Just in time for the holidays, distribution of a major payout to non-core energy users of natural gas in Southern California has arrived,” said Albro Lundy III, a partner in the Baker, Burton and Lundy law firm. “Non-core claimants who are the heavy industrial users of natural gas, are the last to be paid and will receive more than $100 million by year-end as part of the El Paso settlement.”
Lundy said his firm was one of the law firms that brought the original lawsuit alleging “a pipeline conspiracy that increased energy costs during California’s energy crisis of 2000-2001.”
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