Cross-Discipline Team Scores One-Two Punch for Avangrid in Separate Class Actions

In less than eight months, Latham secured decisive dismissals in two cases before Massachusetts federal court.

June 13, 2019

A cross-office, cross-practice team led by Marguerite Sullivan won two significant victories defending Avangrid, Inc., a leading sustainable energy company, against separate class actions filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Plaintiffs, representing different classes in each case, claimed that Avangrid and Eversource Energy manipulated gas transportation on the Algonquin pipeline by reserving excess capacity on the pipeline, then canceling their reservations rather than using or releasing the capacity for use by others. Plaintiffs alleged that this practice resulted in higher natural gas spot prices, which plaintiffs claimed caused higher wholesale electricity prices and ultimately higher retail electricity prices. Plaintiffs brought monopolization and attempted monopolization claims against both defendants under federal and various state antitrust and consumer protection laws and claimed damages (before trebling) in excess of US$3.6 billion.

In Breiding et al. v. Eversource Energy et al., U.S. District Judge Denise Casper granted Avangrid’s motion to dismiss in full on September 11, 2018, with an opinion that adopted Latham’s arguments entirely. The court ruled that plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the filed rate doctrine, that they had failed to state a claim for monopolization or attempted monopolization, and that they lacked antitrust standing.

In PNE Energy Supply v. Eversource Energy et al., though the plaintiffs based their claims on the same alleged conduct, they asserted different theories of liability on behalf of a different class of purchasers. Latham was able to convince the court that the same grounds for dismissal applied. On June 7, 2019, Judge Casper dismissed the complaint in its entirety, agreeing again with all of Latham’s arguments.

In addition to Sullivan, the Antitrust-Project Finance-Power Latham team included Allyson Maltas, David Schwartz, Michael Gergen, Patrick Nevins, Elizabeth Gettinger, David Pettit, and Jason Gerson, with Gwyn Williams supporting the group locally.

For this work, Latham earned recognition as a 2020 GCR Award Finalist, in the Litigation of the Year - Non-cartel Defence category.

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