[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments Tuesday in the consolidated cases Texaco v. Dagher and Shell Oil v. Dagher [Duke Law case backgrounder; merit briefs], where it will decide whether a lawful joint business venture between two or more companies violates the Sherman Act where the venture sets product prices. A group of 23,000 gas distributors brought suit alleging over $1 billion in damages due to a 1998 price-fixing deal between ChevronTexaco [corporate website], then Texaco, and Shell [corporate website] when the two companies formed two lawful joint ventures to oversee the marketing and distribution of their gasoline on the west and east coasts. The joint venture then set a price at which the venture sold its gasoline. In argument the justices appeared skeptical of plaintiffs' counsel's argument that the two companies created the joint ventures to drive up then-low oil prices. AP has more.