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Oil price-fixing complaints dismissed.

Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas

On Feb. 8, the 5th Circuit upheld the dismissal of five consolidated lawsuits alleging price-fixing by foreign oil production companies in Spectrum Stores, Inc. et al. v. Citgo Petroleum et al.

In 2006, five companies filed an antitrust class action lawsuit alleging a price-fixing conspiracy involving Citgo Petroleum Corp. The companies sought to represent all U.S. businesses that had purchased gasoline from Citgo since 2002. Similar lawsuits were filed elsewhere, with a total of five civil actions in four judicial districts all naming Citgo and various non-sovereign sellers of petroleum and crude oil as defendants. In 2007, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated the cases for the purposes of pretrial proceedings.

The district court granted the defendants' motion for dismissal under the act of state doctrine and political question doctrine, finding that the complaints involved decisions of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the defendants' involvement in such decision making. The plaintiffs appealed, but the 5th Circuit upheld the district court's ruling, concluding that the alleged conspiracy hinged on agreements by OPEC members to limit the production of crude oil and that the plaintiffs failed to allege an independent conspiracy outside of these agreements.
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Title Annotation:5TH CIRCUIT
Date:May 1, 2011
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