We include (limited) reaction by some of the named defendants
For our readers' reference, LBReport.com has posted verbatim the class action lawsuit filed by LB City Hall against various natural gas suppliers.
The complaint was filed in LA Superior Court on March 20, 2001 by the LB City Attorney's office and the law offices of M. Brian McMahon of Los Angeles, attorneys on behalf of the following named plaintiffs:
The City of Long Beach
The People of the State of CA (through LB City Attorney Robert Shannon)
United Church Retirement Homes, a California corporation
Long Beach Brethren Manor, a California non-profit corporation
Mr. Robert Lamont
The suit is filed on behalf of the named plaintiffs "and all others similarly situated" (i.e. it's a class action suit on behalf of citizens and businesses of Long Beach)
The suit names as defendants:
Southern California Gas Co.
San Diego Gas and Electric
El Paso Natural Gas Co.
El Paso Corporation
El Paso Tennessee Pipeline Co.
El Paso Merchant Energy Co.
El Paso Merchant Energy, LP
El Paso Merchant-Energy Gas, LP.
The suit alleges a conspiracy to manipulate the supply of natural gas, resulting in big price increases to residents and businesses in the City of Long Beach and alleges California antitrust violations and unfair business practices. As in all civil suits, the plaintiffs have the burden of proving their allegations by a preponderance of the evidence.
A City Hall release notes that if successful on the antitrust claims, the City would be entitled to treble damages, in addition to attorneys' fees.
The release also indicates the L.A. County District Attorney's office approved the LB City Attorney alleging a claim of violations of CA consumer protection law on unfair business practices. If plaintiffs succeed on this claim, the City and State could receive civil penalties and an order preventing the illegal conduct.
As part of City Hall's release, City Attorney Robert Shannon said:
"The primary focus of this lawsuit is to recover and return to the City's residents and bsinesses the grossly inflated rates paid for natural gas. In just the three month period from November 2000 - February 2001, those damages exceeded 28 million dollars."
The release indicates the City Council gave its authority to file the lawsuit in a unanimous vote on March 6, 2001 following a request by the City Attorney.
We have posted the complaint as filed by clicking LB gas suit. The file is 52 pages long in .pdf format.
In response to LBReport.com's request for comment on the LB litigation, an El Paso Energy spokesman told us the company has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation. However, the spokesman cited us to two releases that he said describe general company policy. We have posted them in .html form and you can view them by clicking on El Paso press releases.
A Southern California Gas spokesperson told us the company was very disappointed by the filing of the lawsuit and would be responding to it in court.