'Hot Fuel' Cools Down

Published in CSP Daily News

In major victory for gasoline retailers, plaintiffs voluntarily dismiss claims

KANSAS CITY, Kansas -- After seven years of litigation in more than 20 states, plaintiffs' lawyers in the "hot" fuel temperature multi-district litigation on Tuesday dismissed claims against 15 of the defendants in the litigation. They had claimed that gasoline retailers shortchanged motorists in the summer by selling warm fuel that had expanded, resulting in less fuel being dispensed.

As reported in a 21st Century Smoke/CSP Daily News Flash, the dismissals mark a substantial victory for 7-Eleven, Circle K, Mac's, Kum & Go, Marathon Petroleum, Murphy USA, Pilot Travel Centers, Flying J, PTCAA Texas, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Sheetz, Speedway, The Pantry and Wawa.

Plaintiffs bringing class-action claims for damages and injunctive relief against motor fuel retailers have been filed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, the District of Columbia and Guam.

The plaintiffs claim that because defendants sell motor fuel for a specified price per gallon without disclosing or adjusting for temperature expansion, they are liable under state law theories which include breach of contract, breach of warranty, fraud and consumer protection.

A federal judge threw out three cases against Chevron Corp. in July 2013. BP Products North America Inc., ConocoPhillips Co., Shell Oil Products US, Casey's General Stores Inc. and Valero Marketing & Supply Co., as well as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sam's Club and Costco, settled earlier in the year regarding their sales practices.

According to a press release issued by Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP, which represented the fuel sellers, the allegations in the litigation centered on the century-old, statutorily approved practice of selling gasoline and diesel fuel by the gallon. Regulators have long required motor fuel to be sold by the gallon because it creates a uniform standard and saves consumers money. Nevertheless, starting in 2006, plaintiffs filed 52 lawsuits around the country alleging that selling gasoline by the gallon was somehow a deceptive practice. Judges and jurors have rejected many of these claims, and now the plaintiffs' lawyers have voluntarily dismissed the remaining claims against these 15 defendants.

"I can say these companies are looking forward to putting these lawsuits behind them and getting back to the job of selling high-quality, affordable gasoline to the American people," said attorney Tristan L. Duncan of Shook, Hardy & Bacon.