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High court to hear natural gas price-fixing claims

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will consider whether a group of energy companies can be sued under state antitrust laws for illegally manipulating natural gas prices more than a decade ago during California's energy crisis.

The justices said Tuesday they will hear an appeal from American Electric Power Co., Duke Energy Co. and other natural gas traders arguing that federal law precludes state law claims.

A federal district court sided with the gas traders. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court reversed, saying retail buyers of natural gas could go forward with their lawsuit. Natural gas customers say the companies falsely reported data to industry trade publications, leading to higher gas prices.

The Supreme Court will hear the case in the fall.

The case is ONEOK, Inc. v. Learjet, Inc., 13-271.

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