Over the past six months, the Hot Fuel MDL centered in Kansas City, Kan., has gained serious traction, both in the media and on the litigation front. As we have reported, as temperatures rise, fuel volume expands but the energy within that given fuel remains the same. As a result, consumers who purchase hot fuel are getting less fuel than they are actually paying for. At the same time, oil companies profit from the sale of more fuel as the fuel’s temperature increases. In fact, at every level of the distribution chain except at retail, oil companies compensate for the impact temperature has on motor fuel using temperature compensation devices. The goal of the Hot Fuel litigation is to correct this inequity.
Late last year, the Defendants filed over 200 motions for summary judgment seeking to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ cases. Preparing responses to these motions was a significant undertaking. Parker Miller, a lawyer in our firm, coordinated responses in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi for this litigation. Judge Kathryn Vratil of the District of Kansas has since begun ruling on the motions in the Kansas bellwether case, and we are pleased to report that at almost every turn, the Plaintiffs have been victorious. Specifically, Judge Vratil has upheld the Plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment and consumer protection claims, as well as the Plaintiffs’ pursuit of injunctive relief against the Defendants. Previously, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s grant of class certification on the Plaintiffs’ claims.
The Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the MDL, which has done a fantastic job in this case, has obtained numerous settlements with the Defendants. These include settlements with Costco Wholesale Corp., Valero Energy Corp., Casey’s General Stores, Inc., BP Products North America, Inc., Conoco Phillips Co., and Shell Oil Products US. In addition, the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, along with its subsidiary Sam’s Club, have settled. Recently, the Court approved the groundbreaking Costco settlement, whereby Costco will begin converting gasoline dispensers in some states to automatically compensate for fuel expansion due to temperature.
The first Hot Fuel case is set for trial on August 27 of this year in the District of Kansas. Rhon Jones, a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee member, and Parker Miller, both lawyers in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section, have worked extremely hard on this case from its inception. If you need additional information contact Rhon or Parker at 800-898-2034 or by email at Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com or Parker.Miller@beasleyallen.com.
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