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Industry Wins Hot Fuels Litigation
February 12, 2014
Marking a major victory for fuel retailers in the 7-year-old “hot fuels” litigation, plaintiff’s lawyers dismissed claims against 15 of the defendants.
Fuel retailers and major oil companies have been sued in a class action lawsuit claiming that gas stations overcharge for fuel because pumps lack automatic temperature compensation (ATC) devices. The lawsuits claimed that selling fuel unadjusted for temperature was a “deceptive practice.”
"While we're pleased that fuel retailers prevailed in this lawsuit, it is disheartening that it took seven years for the industry to be vindicated," said Lisa Mullings, NATSO President and CEO. "These lawsuits appear to be nothing more than an attempted shakedown by trial lawyers."
NATSO has argued for some time that these cases are unjustified and without merit. There is no law requiring the installation of ATC devices, nor is there any law that retailers disclose the temperature or energy content of fuel.
For two years, NATSO was involved in a debate over whether retailers should be required to install ATC. NATSO won that debate in July 2009, when the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) rejected measures to require or allow ATC for retail fuel dispensers. At the time, the NCWM cited consensus against ATC as well as economic cost factors, lack of consumer benefit and absence of uniformity in the marketplace as reasons for its decision.
The dismissal marks the third major win in the hot fuels litigation. In July 2013, a federal judge in Kansas threw out three cases against Chevron Corp., ruling that California law allows Chevron to sell fuel without making adjustments for temperature, or disclosing its effect. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil granted Chevron summary judgment on class-action claims that consumers overpaid for fuel that expanded because of temperature. In Sept. 2012, a Kansas jury also found in favor of three major gasoline retailers.
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