New Jersey plaintiffs involved in a federal lawsuit about
hot fuel have expanded their case against fuel retailers and increased the
number of states in a call for class action.
"Hot fuel" refers to fuel sold by retailers that is warmer
than a standard temperature of 60 degrees without compensating for the
expansion of the liquid.
There are currently five lawsuits - filed in California, New
Jersey, Kansas, and two in Missouri - alleging ill-gotten gains by retailers
and oil companies based on the temperature at which fuel is sold.
The New Jersey plaintiffs amended their complaint March 2 in
U.S. District Court alleging a "breach of contract" by retailers regarding the
definition of a gallon. The plaintiffs say retailers have been defining a
gallon by volume only and not by temperature, which keeps consumers in the dark
while the companies profit.
The list of states where the plaintiffs say consumers are
being ripped off by hot fuel was amended in the New Jersey complaint from seven
to 17, as well as Washington, DC. Those states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas,
California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico,
Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and
OOIDA is not a plaintiff in the lawsuits, but several
Association members are. OOIDA Foundation project leader John Siebert has also
led the way in research on the topic of hot fuel.
It was Siebert's research that in part led to an
investigative series in The Kansas City
Star and is contributing to the lawsuits themselves.
The plaintiffs in all five cases are seeking class status on
behalf of consumers. They also want the court to order fuel companies to
install temperature-compensation equipment at the pumps.
Currently, the retail pump is the only place in the U.S. fuel
chain not required to use the 60-degree standard or compensate for it if the
temperature is different.
Retailers in Canada installed temperature-compensation
devices on their pumps voluntarily in the 1990s after learning that selling
fuel cooler than 60 degrees hit their bottom line.
Click here and then scroll down to the New Jersey case to read the amended complaint filed