A federal judge denied class certification in a matter involving Ferrellgas and AmeriGas, two of the nation’s leading suppliers of portable propane exchange tanks. Senior Consultant to CRA, Professor Kevin M. Murphy, submitted an expert declaration and testified on behalf of defendant, Ferrellgas, the parent company of Blue Rhino. A team of CRA consultants, including Sean Taylor, Josh Sherman, and Ben Paterson, supported Professor Murphy in providing economic expertise and analyses to counsel to Ferrellgas, Latham & Watkins.
Plaintiffs sought to represent a putative class of customers who purchased AmeriGas and Blue Rhino branded portable propane tanks from retailers in 13 states. Plaintiffs alleged that AmeriGas and Ferrellgas engaged in an ongoing conspiracy to fix the fill levels of their propane exchange tanks and that members of the putative class suffered common impact and damages in the form of inflated prices on AmeriGas and Blue Rhino branded propane tanks.
Responding to econometric analyses proffered by Plaintiffs’ economic expert, Professor Murphy showed that Plaintiffs’ analyses were fundamentally flawed and failed to demonstrate that any alleged pricing impact of the fill-reduction resulted in class-wide harm. Professor Murphy also conducted various pricing analyses indicating that the wholesale prices per gallon of AmeriGas’s and Ferrellgas’s spares and exchange tanks varied widely amongst retailers and changed constantly due to individualized pricing negotiations.
Citing Professor Murphy’s analyses and expert testimony, the Court opined that Plaintiffs and their expert failed to carry their burden of demonstrating that class-wide impact and damages can be established with common proof. The Court denied the Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification.