Breach of contract alleged in amended 'hot fuel' lawsuit

| 3/5/2007

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 Virginia.

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 March 2.