Class action lawsuit: Retailers selling gas hotter than 60 degrees rip off consumers

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, June 5, 2010 15:53 EDT
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Kansas paper estimated in 2006 that ripoff scams over $2.3 billion annually

Many oil companies and gasoline retailers carefully track the temperature, volume and exact value of their supplies every step of the way from well to gas station, where the measurement often stops.

Now, two lawsuits out of Kansas have been merged into a class action suit alleging that many big gas retailers are directly causing consumers to get less for their money when fuel is sold hotter than the industry standard of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

They call it “hot fuel,” which has expanded at time of sale beyond the volume at which the value was based, resulting in more of a product that carries less energy.

The Kansas City Star reported: “The certification of class-action status does not deal with the merits of the cases, but allows them to proceed. The judge’s ruling, which also could trigger discussions to settle the case, was hailed by attorneys representing consumers in the hot-fuel suits.

“‘It’s a great order, frankly’ said Bob Horn, attorney at Horn, Aylward & Bandy in Kansas City.”

Defendants include big names in the gas retail world, including 7-Eleven, BP, Chevron, Citgo, Conoco, Circle-K, Shell, QuikTrip, Walmart and Valero, among others. In all, the complainants seek compensation from companies in 26 states, Guam and Washington, D.C.

“Attorneys for the defendants said they are disappointed in parts of Vratil’s ruling, but aren’t sure yet whether they will appeal. They said they are glad the judge’s ruling was limited to liability and injunctive relief, and not for damages they said would be hard to pin down,” the Associated Press added.

However, The Kansas City Star featured a series of investigative reports in 2006 which claimed hot fuel costs consumers $2.3 billion every year.

“[The] judge said that if plaintiffs prevail in the liability and injunctive portions of their claims, she would consider whether to certify a class for damages,” Convenience Store News noted.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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