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By: Robert L. Gegios
Kohner, Mann & Kailas, S.C.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Primerus member Kohner, Mann & Kailas, S.C. (KMK), announced that the Supreme Court of the United States has issued an opinion in favor of KMK’s clients that strongly protects Wisconsin businesses and could return hundreds of millions of dollars to the Wisconsin economy. The opinion addresses lawsuits KMK brought, on behalf of Wisconsin industrial and commercial users of natural gas, to address alleged price-fixing in the natural gas industry.

Steve Kailas, President of KMK, believes that, while this is a seminal achievement for the firm, it has far wider significance. “The Supreme Court today has clearly stood up for Wisconsin’s right to protect Wisconsin businesses, its economy and the welfare of its citizens.”

The Wisconsin plaintiffs contend that retail prices for natural gas more than doubled in the early 2000s as the result of a conspiracy by large natural gas companies. KMK’s lawsuits seek damages for the exorbitant prices Wisconsin businesses paid for natural gas. The lawsuit excludes customers who purchased gas from public utility companies because long-standing law places these purchases beyond the reach of state antitrust regulation.

The natural gas company defendants sought to dismiss the suits, arguing that the Wisconsin plaintiffs’ state law claims would interfere with the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which oversees interstate natural gas markets. Federal authority, the defendants argued, renders state law invalid.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with KMK, and the Supreme Court affirmed, ordering the lawsuits to proceed. The next steps are to determine class certification and proceed to trial on conspiracy and damages.

For more information about Kohner, Mann & Kailas, S.C., please visit the International Society of Primerus Law Firms.