Three more lawsuits have been filed against fuel retailers
over the issue of "hot fuel."
Similar to recent lawsuits filed in federal courts in
California and New Jersey, plaintiffs have come forward on behalf of consumers
in Kansas and Missouri to try to put an end to retailers' practice of selling
fuel warmer than 60 degrees - a national temperature standard created a century
ago by regulators and the refineries.
Liquid fuel warmer than 60 degrees expands according to
temperature, but retailers sell fuel by liquid volume. As a result, according
to the plaintiffs, consumers are being ripped off on the amount of energy they
pay for in a liquid gallon sold hotter than 60 degrees.
In Kansas, a group of four plaintiffs, including a carnival
company and a trucking company, are seeking class-action status for a federal
case against 20 fuel retailers and oil companies including Ampride, BP Corp.
North America, Citgo Petroleum Corp., Valero Marketing and Supply Co. and
Wal-Mart Stores Inc...
Robert Soetaert, OOIDA member and owner of Bob Soetaert
Trucking of Shawnee, KS, and the other plaintiffs are seeking $5 million in the
lawsuit filed Dec. 29, 2006, in U.S. District Court in Kansas.
The Missouri lawsuit, filed Dec. 30, 2006, in U.S. District
Court for the Western District of Missouri, was filed by an individual - James
Vanderbilt - seeking class status against a similar but different list of
defendant companies that includes Casey's General Stores and Sinclair Oil Corp.
The third lawsuit, also filed in Missouri, was filed by
Victor VanDyne. The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages for VanDyne and
others who have paid state and federal fuel taxes on hot fuel - specifically
gasoline - at eight fuel retailers including QuikTrip and Flying J.
Groups of plaintiffs - including owner-operators - filed
lawsuits against similar lists of fuel retailers and oil companies Dec. 13,
2006, in federal court in California and Dec. 15, 2006, in federal court in New
More lawsuits may be filed soon in other states where
average retail fuel temperatures exceed 60 degrees, according to John Siebert,
project leader with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which
represents 147,000 professional truck drivers.
Although OOIDA is not part of the lawsuits, Siebert and a
number of members of the Association have contributed to the research on hot
Retailers have said that, according to the oil industry's
American Petroleum Institute, the cost to retrofit fuel pumps with equipment to
compensate for temperature would be in the billions of dollars and would offset
any benefit because those costs would be passed on to consumers.
Siebert claims the cost to retrofit all fuel pumps in the
U.S. would cost about "five days' worth of profits" for the oil companies.
Fuel retailers have already retrofitted pumps in Canada
where it was to their benefit because fuel temperatures there average cooler
than 60 degrees.