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In re Western States Wholesale Natural Gas Antitrust Litigation

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 22, 2019

IN RE WESTERN STATES WHOLESALE NATURAL GAS ANTITRUST LITIGATION
v.
ONEOK Inc., et al. THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO: Learjet, Inc., et al. Heartland Regional Medical Center, et al.
v.
ONEOK Inc., et al.

          ORDER 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 Agreement (collectively, the "Agreement") has come before this Court:

(i) the Class Action Settlement Agreement dated February 15, 2019 entered into between the plaintiffs in the Actions and defendants The Williams Companies, Inc., Williams Merchant Services Company, LLC (f/k/a Williams Merchant Services Company, Inc.), and Williams Gas Marketing, Inc. (f/k/a Williams Power Company, Inc. and Williams Energy Marketing & Trading) (collectively "Williams"); Vistra Energy Corp. (as successor in interest to Dynegy Illinois Inc. and Dynegy GP Inc.), Dynegy Power Marketing, LLC (as successor in interest to DMT G.P. L.L.C.), and Dynegy Marketing and Trade, L.L.C. (collectively, "Dynegy"); and e prime, Inc. and Xcel Energy, Inc. (collectively, "e prime," and collectively along with Williams and Dynegy, the "Settling Defendants").

         Plaintiffs in the Actions and the Settling Defendants are hereinafter referred to collectively as the "Parties."

         Plaintiffs in the Actions filed their motion for preliminary approval on February 19, 2019. Any opposition to the motion was due by March 5, 2019, and no opposition was filed to date. No. formal hearing is required at the preliminary approval stage. See Harris v. U.S. Physical Therapy, Inc., No. 2:10-CV-01508-JCM-VCF, 2012 WL 3277278, at *4 (D. Nev. July 18, 2002).

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

         1. Plaintiffs include 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 Agreement, along with the Settling Defendants and other affiliated Releasees as defined in the Agreement.

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

         3. For purposes of determining whether the Agreement 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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