After looking the problem, Pardue filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the KCAA against Infinite Energy that is currently awaiting certification. "I think the complaint largely speaks for itself," says Pardue. "I think the bottom line is that Infinite Energy took advantage of a spike in natural gas prices and was unjustly enriched as a result."
Hurricane Katrina caused major disruptions in the natural gas supply across the US and caused economic havoc for consumers. As prices soared Infinite Energy sent out letters to the Korean community with an offer to lock-in at current prices as protection against future increases.
Alarmed by how high natural gas prices would affect their costs, many Korean Cleaners signed long term contracts with the Infinite Energy Gas Company only to see prices drop dramatically after the crisis passed.
According to the lawsuit, Infinite Energy has tried to hold members of the KCAA to the higher rates despite attempts to renegotiate the contract and despite the fact that many members never agreed to the new rate.
"We believe Infinite Energy took advantage of the plaintiffs and locked them into this 3-year deal at the height of a price spike that was based on a short term supply problem," says Pardue.
Pardue argues that the people in the industry knew or should have known the price spikes were temporary. "The industry people understood the costs were based on a short term fixable problem in supply based on the devastation that Katrina had wrought in the gulf," says Pardue, "and once the pipelines were repaired the problem would be resolved."
The Korean Cleaners' Association of America has more than 600 members in the United States. Pardue describes his clients as a hard working group of small business owners and he says, "They are great to work with and I think they are looking forward to their day in court."
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Pardue believes the law is on their side and the suit seeks more than $5 million in damages, as well as punitive damages and a permanent injunction.
David Pardue represents small and large businesses and heads the litigation team at Hartman, Simons, Spielman & Wood in Atlanta, Georgia. Pardue was also selected as a Georgia Superlawyer for 2008 in the category of Business Litigation and Real Estate Litigation. He holds a B.A. from Tulane University and a J.D. from Yale.