Hot fuel trial moved to Sept. 5

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 8/27/2012

The trial in the class-action lawsuit over “hot fuel” has been moved to Sept. 5. The trial was scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 27, but the judge granted an extension request filed by plaintiffs and defendants. Consumer plaintiffs are accusing fuel companies of profiting from hot or expanded fuel without accounting for temperature.

Business-savvy truckers logging their fuel purchases and mileage were among the first to recognize that hot fuel was a potential problem that could cost consumers a lot of money. Consumer groups began filing lawsuits in 2006, and a judicial panel consolidated numerous cases into one. Some OOIDA members are involved in the lawsuit, but the Association is not a named plaintiff.

The class is seeking monetary damages as well as a ruling to force retailers to reconfigure their pumps to account for temperature of the fuel. The technology exists and it is known as ATC, or automatic temperature compensation.

The plaintiffs question why ATC is not being used in warmer climes, given the fact that retailers in Canada use ATC to avoid giving away fuel that has contracted due to cooler temperatures.

A number of fuel retailers have offered to settle out of court in recent months. Settlement offers have included voluntary installation of ATC and/or informing the public whether a particular fuel pump does, or does not, account for temperature. Retailers have offered to put $21.6 million into a fund to phase in the use of ATC on their pumps.

Judge Kathryn Vratil is presiding over the consolidated case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. She can accept or reject the offers of settlement.

The extension granted by Vratil allows the plaintiffs and defendants a few more days to file objections to the court’s instructions provided to the jury.

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