Action is moving forward on the consolidated “hot fuel” lawsuits as plaintiffs filed their amended complaint on Oct. 5, beating the Oct. 8 deadline ordered by the judge.
Judge Kathryn H. Vratil was assigned to oversee the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the District of Kansas.
The amended complaint was ordered by the court on Aug. 30, “solely as an administrative and procedural tool designed to narrow the predominant legal issues common to the underlying cases.”
The defendants have until Oct. 22 to file a consolidated motion to dismiss, which could take up to three months for Vratil to “develop a ruling on the motion,” according to OOIDA Foundation Project Leader John Siebert.
In June, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided to consolidate 12 hot fuel lawsuits and 21 “tagalong” lawsuits, filed on behalf of consumer plaintiffs, including truckers and motorists. Thirty-six of the more than 100 defendant oil companies, distributors and retailers agreed that consolidation was the right thing to do, according to the June 18 consolidation order.
Plaintiffs in the hot fuel lawsuit are seeking class status in an effort to force retailers to equip all retain fuel pumps with automatic temperature-compensation equipment, which would ensure that consumers get a consistent amount of fuel energy at retail pumps according to the same 60-degree standard that wholesalers and refiners use to buy and sell fuel above the rack.
The Kansas City Star reported that without temperature compensation, hot fuel costs consumers an estimated $2.3 billion annually – a number that also accounts for any offset of fuel sold below 60 degrees.
Siebert, who along with the help of owner-operators and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, recorded fuel temperatures in 46 states, was the first to bring the issue of hot fuel to the public’s attention in an investigative series by Steve Everly of The Star.
To read the entire consolidated amended complaint, click here.
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer