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AG Derek Schmidt: Kansas recovers nearly $1 million in state funds from natural gas antitrust lawsuit

Release Date: Jun 25, 2019

TOPEKA – (June 25, 2019) – Kansas has recovered almost $1 million from litigation holding several companies accountable for illegally inflating the price of natural gas in the early 2000s, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

"Our successful defense of state antitrust law made this recovery possible," Schmidt said. "We are gratified by this outcome and are determined to continue defending the public treasury from those who unlawfully lay claim to taxpayer funds."

In 2014, the attorney general filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that federal law does not preempt the authority of states to enforce state antitrust laws against price-fixing of natural gas in retail transactions. The Court took the unusual step of allowing Kansas to advance its views at oral argument, which the attorney general's office did in January 2015. The Court ruled in favor of the Kansas position, allowing several plaintiffs to continue their lawsuit that alleged violation of state antitrust law.

The resulting settlement in that case enabled Kansas to recover funds overpaid by the state because of the illegally inflated prices. In 2017, the attorney general's office filed claims to recover the overpayments on more that 5.2 million Btu of natural gas. Last week, the attorney general's office received reimbursement of $957,451.02 to cover overcharges from 2000-2002.  Those funds will be returned to the State General Fund.

The case was Oneok, Inc. v. Learjet, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 1591 (2015).

 

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