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Oil and law

June 23, 2008

Re "Sue OPEC," Opinion, June 19

Decades ago, the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers sued OPEC and its member nations for a price-fixing violation of antitrust law. A U.S. District Court held that it did not have jurisdiction over the OPEC nations. The action failed because foreign sovereigns are not persons within the meaning of the Sherman Act, and because there was no causal connection between OPEC activities and domestic price increases. The case was appealed. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals avoided a real decision. Oil politics ruled over law. The question remains: Will "oil politics" again rule over law, or will the injury to our economy and citizens be sufficient to convince the U.S. that "other national interests" override "oil politics" and allow the court to take the case?

Richard I. Fine

Tarzana

The writer, an attorney, represented the union in its case against OPEC.

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Writing an article to justify lawsuits attacking OPEC's market manipulation and output is what one would expect from lawyers. In what way does U.S. antitrust law have jurisdiction over organizations like OPEC? OPEC has the oil, therefore OPEC has the power.

Deborah Hoyle

Palm Desert

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