KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Twenty-eight oil companies and retailers have agreed to settle litigation claiming customers were knowingly overcharged when gas station fuel temperatures rose, plaintiffs announced Friday.
Federal officials earlier consolidated about 50 lawsuits filed since 2006 from consumers across the country in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas. The plaintiffs' attorneys said in a news release that a judge has given preliminary approval to the settlement agreements in the so-called "hot fuel" cases.
Online court records show final approval hearings are scheduled for June 9.
The plaintiffs say customers were shortchanged when buying gasoline that is over 60 degrees. The volume of gasoline expands and consumers argue they are getting less than a gallon of fuel for a full gallon price.
"At the end of the day, we hope that the industry begins to change its practice and sells gas that is temperature corrected," said Bob Horn, the lead attorney representing consumers in the case. He said the settlements were reached over a two-year period.
Six companies — BP, ConocoPhillips Co., ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and Sinclair Oil Corp. — agreed to pay nearly $23 million to reimburse retailers for installing equipment that corrects for the effects of temperature on fuel. Some of that money, along with an additional $1.6 million from 18 other companies, will be used to help states oversee retail fuel sales, the plaintiffs' release said.
The other four companies, Casey's General Stores Inc., Dansk Investment Group Inc., Sam's Club, and Valero Marketing and Supply Co., have agreed to gradually convert a portion of their existing and new stations to fuel pumps that can adjust for the effects of temperature, the release said.
Attorneys for several of the defendants, including ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Sam's Club, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
The plaintiffs were from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Guam, and the Virgin Islands.