With billions of dollars riding on the outcome, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to define the scope of federal regulatory power and the ability of private litigants to recover antitrust damages in the deregulated world of natural gas selling.

The legal battle stems from three related cases of alleged price-fixing and market manipulation by natural gas suppliers during the 2001 California energy crisis: Sierra Pacific v. El Paso Corp., No. 05-15127; Texas-Ohio Energy v. AEP Energy Services, No. 05-15919; and E&J Gallo Winery v. Encana Corp., No. 05-17352.

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