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In re Western States Wholesale Natural Gas Antitrust Litigation

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 5, 2017

IN RE WESTERN STATES WHOLESALE NATURAL GAS ANTITRUST LITIGATION
v.
ONEOK Inc., et al. THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO Lear jet, Inc., et al. Heartland Regional Medical Center, et al.
v.
ONEOK Inc., et al. Nos. 2:03-cv-01431-RCJ-PAL, 2:06-cv-00233-RCJ-PAL, 2:07-cv-00987-RCJ-PAL

          PRELIMINARILY CERTIFYING SETTLEMENT CLASSES, APPROVING CLASS SETTLEMENT, APPROVING CLASS NOTICE AND SETTING DATE FOR FAIRNESS HEARING

          Hon. Robert C. Jones United States District Judge

         The motion of the Plaintiffs in above-captioned actions (the "Actions") for preliminary approval of the terms and conditions (the "Settlements") in the following Settlement Agreements (collectively, the "Agreements") has come before this Court:

(i) the Settlement Agreement dated March 24, 2017 entered into between Plaintiffs and defendants El Paso Corporation (n/k/a El Paso LLC) and El Paso Merchant Energy, L.P. (n/k/a El Paso Marketing Company, L.L.C.) (the "El Paso Defendants"); and
(ii) the Settlement Agreement dated March 24, 2017 entered into between Plaintiffs and defendants CMS Energy Corporation, CMS Energy Resources Management Company (f/k/a CMS Marketing, Services and Trading Company), and CMS Field Services, Inc. (the "CMS Defendants).

         The El Paso Defendants and the CMS Defendants are hereinafter referred to collectively as the "Settling Defendants." Plaintiffs and the Settling Defendants are hereinafter referred to collectively as the "Parties."

         The Court, after carefully considering the motion and all papers filed and proceedings held herein, including the Agreements and proposed Notice Plan, for good cause HEREBY FINDS AND ORDERS THE FOLLOWING:

         1. The Parties include plaintiffs Learjet, Inc., Topeka Unified School District 501, Heartland Regional Medical Center, Prime Tanning Corp., and Northwest Missouri State University, (collectively hereinafter, "Plaintiffs"), both individually and on behalf of proposed settlement classes of industrial and commercial purchasers of natural gas for their own use or consumption in the States of Kansas and Missouri, as more particularly defined in Paragraph 3 of this Order, and other affiliated Releasors defined in the Agreements, along with the Settling Defendants and other affiliated Releasees as defined in the Agreements.

         2. The Agreements are incorporated by reference in this Order. All terms which are defined in the Agreements and used but not otherwise defined herein shall have the meanings ascribed to them in the Agreements.

         3. For purposes of determining whether the Agreements should be preliminarily approved, the Court conditionally certifies, for purposes of settlement only, pursuant to Rules 23(a) and (b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3), the Classes defined as follows:

(a) "Kansas Class" means:
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(s) for resale); (b) entities that purchased natural gas for generation of electricity for the purpose of sale (to the extent of such purchase(s) 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 the Kansas 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.
(b) "Missouri Class" means:
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(s) for resale); (b) entities that purchased natural gas for generation of electricity for the purpose of sale (to the extent of such purchase(s) for generation); (c) defendants and their predecessors, ...

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