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$48 Million Settlement in Unocal Antitrust Class Action

Outcome: $48 million settlement

CARB Compliant Gasoline Cases II, Case No.: JCCP 4449 in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged that Unocal committed fraud against a regulatory agency and engaged in anti-competitive activity, in violation of the FTC Act. Upon investigation, conduct was discovered that suggested Unocal illegally acquired a monopoly on summertime RFG gas. While Unocal and the FTC entered into a consent agreement, private class action lawsuits against Unocal continued, seeking recovery on behalf of consumers who have already paid allegedly supracompetitive prices for RFG (reformulated gasoline).

The allegations against Unocal state that in order to gain a competitive advantage, the company actively manipulated, misled, and deceived the California Air Resources Board (CARB), along with industry associations, into adopting regulatory standards that overlapped with its undisclosed patents. Specifically, it is alleged that despite having knowledge of its pending patents and probable issuance, Unocal did not disclose the existence of its patents and instead represented that its technology was “non-proprietary.” Plaintiffs also claim that a state agency unwittingly selected standards for RFG that mandated the use of Unocal’s technology.

The anti-competitive conduct of Unocal resulted in substantial harm to consumers of gasoline in California, due to increased retail prices for RFG. The class in the lawsuit encompasses all consumers who purchased CARB-compliant summertime reformulated gasoline in the State of California between January 1995 and August 11, 2005. TZ successfully litigated the settlement of this antitrust class action matter, resulting in a $48 million settlement.

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