Federal Judge Gives Final OK to $24.5M 'Hot Fuel' Settlement

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A federal judge has put the stamp of approval on a $24.5-million settlement, bringing a multidistrict "hot fuels" case to a close.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn H. Vratil approved the settlement in multidistrict litigation that accused oil companies and fuel retailers of overcharging for gasoline that expanded on hot days. The ruling came despite objections by 7-Eleven Inc. and other gas retailers, according to Law360.com.

As CSNews Online previously reported, 7-Eleven and Sheetz Inc. are among a group of convenience store retailers that oppose the settlement, alleging that those companies settling are attempting to push a pro-automatic temperature compensation (ATC) campaign that was already rejected by a congressional body, and to deprive ATC opponents of their First Amendment rights. 

On Jan. 26, the U.S. District Court for Kansas gave preliminary approval to settlements with 28 defendants — including BP Products North America Inc., Casey's General Stores Inc., ConocoPhillips Co., Chevron USA Inc., E-Z Mart Stores Inc., ExxonMobil Corp., Flash Market Inc., Shell Oil Products US, Thorntons Inc., Motiva Enterprises LLC, Sinclair Oil Corp. and Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores — regarding a consumer class-action lawsuit concerning how gasoline and diesel fuel are sold at retail gas stations.

The amounts each company must pay vary, with BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon and Shell responsible for paying out $5 million each, while some smaller retailers will only be on the hook for $21,000.

The issue behind "hot fuel" refers to when diesel and gasoline are sold warmer than the standard 60 degrees Fahrenheit. While fuel temperature is compensated for at all points of the refining and wholesale fuel process, it's not at the retail pump. When fuel is warmer than the standard, it expands and allegedly gives consumers less energy for the price.

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