Natural Gas Antitrust Settlement

In re Western States Wholesale Natural Gas Antitrust Litigation
United States District Court for the District of Nevada, Case No. 2:03-cv-01431-RCJ-PAL

Frequently Asked Questions

Following is a list of frequently asked questions about this settlement. To view the answer to a question, please click on the question from the list below. The answers to these questions will be updated periodically to reflect the current status of the settlement.

  1. What are the notice and this website about?

    You or your company may have purchased natural gas for use in Kansas, Missouri, or Wisconsin between January 1, 2000 to October 31, 2002.

    The Long Form Notice explains the litigation, the settlements, and your legal rights.

    The Court in charge of the case is the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, and the case is called In re Western States Wholesale Natural Gas Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 2:03-cv-01431-RCJ-PAL. The people who sued are called Plaintiffs and the companies they sued are called Defendants.

  2. Who are the Defendant companies?

    The Defendant companies include:

    • American Electric Power Company, Inc. and AEP Energy Services, Inc. (collectively, “AEP”);
    • CenterPoint Energy Services, Inc. (“CenterPoint”);
    • Coral Energy Resources, L.P. (n/k/a Shell Energy North America (U.S.), L.P.) (“Coral”);
    • Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (f/k/a/ Duke Energy Corporation) and Duke Energy Trading and Marketing, L.L.C. (collectively, “Duke”);
    • ONEOK, Inc., ONEOK Energy Services Company, L.P. (f/k/a ONEOK Energy Marketing & Trading Company, L.P.), and Kansas Gas Marketing Company (collectively, “ONEOK”);
    • CMS Energy Corporation, CMS Field Services, CMS Marketing Services & Trading Company, and Cantera Gas Company, LLC (collectively, “CMS”);
    • Dynegy Marketing and Trade, DMT G.P. LLC, Dynegy Illinois, Inc., and Dynegy GP, Inc. (collectively, “Dynegy”);
    • El Paso Merchant Energy, L.P. and El Paso Corporation (collectively, “El Paso);
    • ePrime, Inc., Xcel Energy, Inc., and Northern States Power Company (collectively, “ePrime”);
    • Reliant Energy, Inc. and Reliant Energy Services, Inc. (“Reliant”); and
    • The Williams Companies, Inc., Williams Energy Marketing & Trading Company, Williams Merchant Services Company, Inc., and Williams Power Company, Inc. (collectively, “Williams”).
  3. What is this litigation about?

    The lawsuits allege that Defendants and Co-Conspirators engaged in an unlawful arrangement, combination, agreement, or conspiracy to manipulate, fix, raise, maintain or stabilize the prices of natural gas. Plaintiffs further claim that certain commercial and industrial purchasers who purchased natural gas in Kansas, Missouri, or Wisconsin from sellers other than utilities or local distribution companies may recover for the effect that the alleged conspiracy had on the prices of the natural gas they purchased. Plaintiffs allege that, as result of the combined or collusive conduct, they and other purchasers paid more for natural gas than they would have absent the conspiracy. Defendants deny all of Plaintiffs’ allegations and claims. The Court has not decided who is right.

  4. Why are there settlements but the litigation is continuing?

    Only four groups of Defendants have agreed to settle the pending lawsuits: American Electric Power Company, Inc., AEP Energy Services, Inc., Coral Energy Resources, L.P. (n/k/a Shell Energy North America (U.S.), L.P.), Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (f/k/a/ Duke Energy Corporation) and Duke Energy Trading and Marketing, L.L.C., ONEOK, Inc., and ONEOK Energy Services Company, L.P. (f/k/a ONEOK Energy Marketing & Trading Company, L.P.) (collectively, the “Settling Defendants”). The case is continuing against the remaining Defendants. Additional money may become available in the future as a result of a trial or future settlements, but there is no guarantee that this will happen.

  5. What is a class action?

    In a class action, one or more people, called class representatives, sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All of these people are members of the class, except for those who exclude themselves from the class.

    Important information about the case will be posted on this website as it becomes available. Please check this website to be kept informed about any future developments.

  6. How do I know if I'm part of the Settlement Classes?

    You or your company may be a member of the following Settlement Classes:

    Kansas Settlement Class

    All industrial and commercial direct purchasers of natural gas for their own use or consumption during the period from January 1, 2000 through October 31, 2002, and which gas was used or consumed by them in Kansas. Excluded from the Class are (a) entities that purchased natural gas for resale (to the extent of such purchase for resale); (b) entities that purchased natural gas for generation of electricity for the purpose of sale (to the extent of such purchase for generation); (c) defendants and their predecessors, affiliates and subsidiaries; (d) the federal government and its agencies; and (e) Reorganized FLI, Inc. (f/k/a Farmland Industries, Inc.).

    For purposes of this Kansas Settlement Class definition, a “direct purchaser” means an industrial or commercial entity that bought natural gas for its own use or consumption directly from any of the defendants in the Actions, or from a seller other than a local distribution company.

    Missouri Settlement Class

    All industrial and commercial direct purchasers of natural gas for their own use or consumption during the period from January 1, 2000 through October 31, 2002, and which gas was used or consumed by them in Missouri. Excluded from the Class are (a) entities that purchased natural gas for resale (to the extent of such purchase for resale); (b) entities that purchased natural gas for generation of electricity for the purpose of sale (to the extent of such purchase for generation); (c) defendants and their predecessors, affiliates and subsidiaries; (d) the federal government and its agencies; and (e) Reorganized FLI, Inc. (f/k/a Farmland Industries, Inc.).

    For purposes of this Missouri Settlement Class definition, a “direct purchaser” means an industrial or commercial entity that bought natural gas for its own use or consumption directly from any of the defendants in the Actions, or from a seller other than a local distribution company.

    Wisconsin Settlement Class

    All industrial and commercial purchasers of natural gas for their own use or consumption during the period from January 1, 2000 through October 31, 2002, and which gas was used or consumed by them in Wisconsin. Excluded from the Class are (a) entities that purchased natural gas for resale (to the extent of such purchase for resale); (b) entities that purchased natural gas for generation of electricity for the purpose of sale (to the extent of such purchase for generation); (c) entities that purchased natural gas from entities that sold natural gas at rates approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (to the extent of such purchases at such approved rates); (d) defendants and their predecessors, affiliates and subsidiaries; (e) the federal government and its agencies; and (f) Reorganized FLI, Inc. (f/k/a Farmland Industries, Inc.).

  7. What do the settlements provide?

    The settlements provide a total of $42,800,000.00 in cash, plus interest (the “Settlement Fund”), before deductions for attorneys’ fees and expenses. The Class Representatives and Class Counsel have agreed, and the Court has approved, an allocation of those funds to class members in Kansas, Missouri, and Wisconsin based primarily on the volume of natural gas sold in each state and differences in the claims and remedies available in each state. Before deductions for attorneys’ fees and expenses, the Settlement Fund is allocated as follows: $20,522,000 to the Wisconsin Class; $14,089,600 to the Kansas Class; and $8,188,400 to the Missouri Class.

    In addition, the Settling Defendants’ sales remain in the case for the purpose of computing damages against the remaining defendants.

    More details are in the Settlement Agreements, available on the Settlement Documents page of this website.

  8. When can I get a payment?

    Payments from the Settlement Fund will be distributed to Class Members who submit a valid and timely Claim Form with supporting documentation after the claims period and administration process is complete. Settlement funds will be allocated on a pro rata basis based on the volume of natural gas that each participating Class Member purchased in proportion to the total claims filed.

    In order to be eligible for a payment in this settlement, you must submit a valid and timely Claim Form with adequate supporting documentation.

  9. How do I file a claim?

    You can submit an online Claim Form under the “File a Claim” section on this website, or you can download, print, and complete a blank Claim Form to return by mail to the following address:

    Natural Gas Antitrust Settlements
    c/o Dahl Administration
    PO Box 3614
    Minneapolis, MN 55403-0614

    You can also request a Claim Form be mailed to you by emailing info@NaturalGasAntitrustSettlement.com or calling 1-866-656-6750 and providing your full name and address.

    You must provide proof of purchase for all qualifying volumes listed in your Claim Form.

    Claim Forms must be submitted (online), or postmarked (by mail), no later than September 26, 2017.

    Please note that the Claims Administrator has the right to request verification or more information regarding the claimed Eligible Purchases. If Class Members do not timely comply with such requests, or are unable to produce sufficient documents or other evidence to substantiate their Claim, the Claims Administrator may disqualify their Claim, in full or in part.

  10. What are my rights related to the Settlement Classes?
    1. Remain in the Settlement Classes: Unless you have excluded yourself from the Settlements, you remain in this class and all decisions made by the Court bind you. In order to be eligible for funds from the Settlement Fund, you must submit a valid and timely Claim Form.

    2. Get out of the Settlement Classes: The deadline to exclude yourself from the settlements was April 11, 2017.

    3. Remain in the Settlement Classes and Object: The deadline to object to the settlements was April 11, 2017.

  11. What if I am part of more than one of the Settlement Classes?

    The terms of the Settlement Agreements, including the releases of claims discussed in FAQ 12 below and detailed in the Settlement Agreements available on the Settlement Documents page of this website, require that a class member must participate in or opt out of all classes in which it is a member. For example, if a Kansas class member also qualifies as a member of the Missouri or Wisconsin classes, that entity must either participate in both classes (by doing nothing) or opt out of both classes.

  12. What am I giving up to stay in the Settlement Classes?

    Unless you have excluded yourself from the Settlement Classes, you can't sue any of the Settling Defendants, or be part of any other lawsuit against any of the Settling Defendants, about the alleged misconduct or legal issues in these lawsuits. It also means that all of the decisions by the Court bind you. As described in the Settlement Agreements, upon the Effective Date of Settlement, each of the Releasees shall be completely released, acquitted, and forever discharged by Releasors from any and all claims, demands, actions, suits, causes of action for injuries, losses, damages or other consequences of every nature (whether known or unknown, foreseen or unforeseen, suspected or unsuspected, actual or contingent, liquidated or unliquidated, legal or equitable) that Releasors or any of them ever had, now has, or hereafter can, shall, or may have in any capacity (whether class, individual, direct, derivative, representative or any other capacity) on account of, or in any way arising out of, or relating in any way to any act or omission of the Releasees or the other named defendants/alleged co-conspirators or any third party alleged co-conspirators (or any of them) that is alleged in the Actions up to the date of the execution of this Agreement or that could have been alleged in the Actions or in any other proceeding alleging such acts or omissions (the “Released Claims”).* The Released Claims shall not preclude Plaintiffs from pursuing any and all claims against any defendants in the Actions other than the Settling Defendants. Likewise, the Released Claims shall not impede Plaintiffs’ rights to pursue claims against the non-settling Defendants to recover for the full amount of Plaintiffs’ and Class Members’ alleged damages as provided by applicable law.

    The Releases and all related terms are contained in the Settlement Agreements, which are available on the Settlement Documents page of this website.

    * Please review the specific release language in each settlement agreement, which can be found on the Settlement Documents page of this website. The release applicable to the Duke Defendants reads slightly differently, and applies to “any and all claims, demands, actions, suits, causes of action, whether class, individual, or otherwise in nature (whether or not any Class Member has objected to the settlement or makes a claim upon or participates in the Settlement Fund, whether directly, representatively, derivatively or in any other capacity) that Releasors, or each of them, ever had, now has, or hereafter can, shall, or may have on account of, or in any way arising out of, any and all known and unknown, foreseen and unforeseen, suspected or unsuspected, actual or contingent, liquidated or unliquidated, claims, causes of action, injuries, damages, and the consequences thereof in any way arising out of or relating in any way to any act or omission of the Releasees or the other named defendants/alleged co-conspirators or any third party alleged co-conspirators (or any of them) that is alleged in the Actions up to the date of the execution of this Agreement or that could have been alleged in the Actions . . . .”

  13. Do I have a lawyer in the litigation?

    Yes. The Court has appointed the law firms of Polsinelli PC, Barry Law Office, LLC, and The McCallister Law Group, LLC to represent the members of the Kansas Settlement Class, the law firms of Polsinelli PC and Barry Law Office, LLC to represent the members of the Missouri Settlement Class, and the law firms of Kohner Mann & Kailas, S.C., Polsinelli PC, and Barry Law Office, LLC to represent members of the Wisconsin class (collectively, “Settlement Class Counsel”). You do not have to pay Settlement Class Counsel. The contact information for Settlement Class Counsel is as follows:

    KANSAS SETTLEMENT CLASS COUNSEL

    Jennifer Gille Bacon
    Polsinelli PC
    900 W. 48th Place, Suite 900
    Kansas City, Missouri 64112
    jbacon@polsinelli.com
    Donald D. Barry
    Barry Law Office
    5340 S.W. 17th Street
    P.O. Box 4816
    Topeka, Kansas 66604
    dbarry@inlandnet.net
    Gary D. McCallister
    McCallister Law Group, LLC
    120 N. LaSalle St. #2800
    Chicago, Illinois 60602
    gdm@gdmlawfirm.com

    WISCONSIN SETTLEMENT CLASS COUNSEL

    Robert L. Gegios
    Kohner, Mann & Kailas, S.C.
    Washington Building
    Barnabas Business Center
    4650 Port Washington Road
    Milwaukee, WI 53212
    rgegios@kmksc.com
    Jennifer Gille Bacon
    Polsinelli PC
    900 W. 48th Place, Suite 900
    Kansas City, Missouri 64112
    jbacon@polsinelli.com
    Donald D. Barry
    Barry Law Office
    5340 S,W. 17th Street
    P.O. Box 4816
    Topeka, Kansas 66604
    dbarry@inlandnet.net

    MISSOURI SETTLEMENT CLASS COUNSEL

    Jennifer Gille Bacon
    Polsinelli PC
    900 W. 48th Place, Suite 900
    Kansas City, Missouri 64112
    jbacon@polsinelli.com
    Donald D. Barry
    Barry Law Office
    5340 S,W. 17th Street
    P.O. Box 4816
    Topeka, Kansas 66604
    dbarry@inlandnet.net
  14. How will the lawyers be paid?

    Under the terms of the Settlement Agreements, Settlement Class Counsel has asked the Court for reimbursement of a portion of the costs and expenses they incurred in pursuit of claims on behalf of the Settlement Classes, and requested an award of attorneys’ fees not to exceed thirty-five percent (35%) of that portion of the Settlement Fund remaining after reimbursement of costs and expenses. Settlement Class Counsel also requested that an amount be paid to each of the Class Representatives who helped the lawyers on behalf of the whole Class (known as an "incentive award").

  15. Who represents the Settling Defendants?
    The AEP Defendants:
    Robert Wolinsky
    Hogan Lovells US LLP
    Columbia Square
    555 Thirteenth Street, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20004
    Robert.wolinsky@hoganlovells.com
    Coral Energy Resources, L.P.:
    Joshua Lichtman
    Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP
    555 South Flower Street
    Forty-First Floor
    Los Angeles, CA 90071
    Joshua.lichtman@nortonrosefulbright.com
    The Duke Defendants:
    Joel Kleinman
    Blank Rome LLP
    1825 Eye Street NW
    Washington, D.C. 20006
    jkleinman@blankrome.com
    The ONEOK Defendants:
    David Bryant
    GableGotwals
    100 W. Fifth Street, Suite 1100
    Tulsa, OK 74103
    dbryant@gablelaw.com
  16. How do I get more information?

    The Long Form Notice and this website summarize the settlements. For the precise terms and conditions of the settlements, please see the Settlement Agreements, which are available on the Settlement Documents page of this website and can be obtained by contacting Settlement Class Counsel using the information listed above under FAQ 14.

    View the Contact Us page in order to contact the Claims Administrator.

    PLEASE DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK'S OFFICE TO INQUIRE ABOUT THIS SETTLEMENT OR THE CLAIM PROCESS.