Recently, two “hot fuel” lawsuits in Kansas became the nation’s first to receive certification as class actions. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil of Kansas City, Kansas, ruled that the two suits meet the class standards to represent not just the few individuals named in the suits, but other, unnamed consumers affected by the hot-fuel practice. This is a significant ruling and a major step towards resolution of the entire litigation, which spans nationwide and encompasses 26 “hot” states.
As we have reported in previous issues, the oil industry transfers motor fuel within the industry based on the U.S. Petroleum Gallon – an established standard that measures motor fuel based on a temperature of 60 degrees. The purpose of the standard is to compensate for loss in energy that occurs in each 231 cubic-inch gallon as the fuel heats. However, the oil industry has consistently fought against providing the same benefit to consumers, who are purchasing fuel in hot states where the fuel’s temperature can exceed 100 degrees. Based on a series of 2006 stories and a Congressional study, it has been estimated that the industry practice of selling hot fuel costs consumers $2.3 billion annually.
Judge Vratil said if the Plaintiffs prevail on the liability and injunctive portions of their claims, she would consider whether to certify a class for damages. The Defendants in the Kansas case include BP, Casey’s General Stores, Chevron, Circle K, Citgo, ConocoPhillips, 7-Eleven, Shell Oil, Valero, Kum & Go, QuickTrip and Wal-Mart.
Beasley Allen lawyers Rhon Jones and Parker Miller, who are in our firm’s environmental section, have played a major role in the progression of the hot fuel litigation. If you want more information, please contact Rhon Jones and Parker Miller at 800-898-2034, or by email at Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com and Parker.Miller@beasleyallen.com.
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