In a move that essentially keeps all of the major energy suppliers in California during the wholesale market meltdown in 2000-2001 at risk in pending litigation, California Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager in San Diego County ruled Tuesday against Dallas-based TXU Corp.’s contention that it should not be included in a series of 27 civil cases that have been consolidated in the judge’s court. Prager oversaw the multi-billion-dollar class action lawsuit against Sempra Energy and its two California natural gas utilities that was settled earlier in the year in the midst of a jury trial.

TXU’s corporate spokesperson in Dallas had no immediate comment, noting that the company’s lawyer familiar with the litigation was still reviewing the judge’s ruling before making any comment.

A status hearing is scheduled for Aug. 8 before Judge Prager. Eight other energy suppliers/traders, in addition to TXU, are named in some or all of those legal actions. The companies include: Reliant Energy, Centerpoint Energy, Inc., AEP Energy Services, Sempra Energy, Dynegy Inc., Coral Energy Resources LP, Encana, and Williams Energy Services.

More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed against TXU, a major energy trader in California during the crisis period, and other natural gas providers by firms such as Burlingame, CA-based Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy on behalf of the University of California Regents and the 10-campus UC system, the 23-campus California State University system and several local governments and private businesses. A spokesperson for Cotchett, Pitre called Judge Prager’s ruling “an important victory,” given that her law firm argued that TXU wrongly tried to quash the legal action.

Recognizing the Texas base of TXU, Judge Prager said in his ruling that “the court recognizes that exercise of jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant may be rare, but under the circumstances of this case and based on the evidence supporting opposition to the motion to quash, the policies expressed [in related cases] are outweighed by the interests of California and its citizens.”

The judge cited numerous public communications by TXU touting itself as an international-focused company that was in close contract with its energy trading and other activities. He specifically cited TXU’s own characterization of itself as “one of America’s leading energy services companies and energy retailers.”

©Copyright 2006Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.