The firm also plays an important role in the Hot Fuel multi-district litigation centered in Kansas City, Kan. The case spans the entire southern portion of the United States, and includes lawsuits in 26 states. As we have reported, when customers purchase motor fuel by the gallon, they expect to receive a gallon’s worth of energy. However, as the temperature of fuel increases, the fuel expands in volume but the energy content remains the same – as if it never expanded. In other words, a gallon of hot fuel is less dense and contains less energy than a gallon of cold fuel. As a result, the oil companies are able to sell more hot gallons, but those gallons contain less energy per cubic inch. Ultimately, consumers in hot states, such as Alabama, Georgia and Florida, are receiving less energy per gallon to power their cars than they are actually paying for. As one might guess, oil companies are able to generate massive profits from this practice.
The oil industry has known about the effects temperature has on motor fuel for decades – and they take advantage of it. The industry helped establish the U.S. Petroleum Gallon, whereby a gallon of fuel is 231 cubic inches measured at 60 degrees. The oil industry also temperature compensates intra-industry transfers at practically every level of the distribution process except at retail. In Canada, where the fuel is cold and consumers could benefit from the sale of colder gallons with more energy, the oil companies temperature compensate at retail to make sure they don’t lose money. However, the oil industry refuses to offer this same technology it has used for years to consumers at retail to ensure folks receive the fuel they purchase.
From defeating the Defendants’ motions to dismiss to achieving class certification for an injunctive class in the State of Kansas, the Plaintiffs have achieved some significant victories. After years of argument, the Plaintiffs recently achieved another significant victory on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit when the Court ruled the oil companies have to turn over internal lobbying documentation with oil trade groups. While the Defendants may appeal this ruling again, we are confident that both the District of Kansas and the 10th Circuit’s opinions were correct.
Currently, liability discovery has closed in the case and the parties are gearing up for expert discovery. In addition, the first bellweather trial is expected to take place sometime next year for consumers in the State of Kansas. Rhon Jones is a steering committee member in the litigation, and Parker Miller has played a very important role in the litigation’s global offensive discovery efforts. Grant Cofer has also joined the Beasley Allen team and is doing a good job in this case. This is a difficult case, but we are working hard to make a difference.
If you have any questions about the litigation, you can contact Rhon, Parker or Grant at Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com, Parker.Miller@beasleyallen.com, or Grant.Cofer@beasleyallen.com, respectively.
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