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N.J. Gas Retailers Sue ExxonMobil

NEWARK, N.J. -- More than 100 New Jersey gas stations and convenience stores sued the Exxon Mobil Corp. Wednesday, claiming they are forced to overpay the company for wholesale gasoline and rent, The New York Times reported.

The complaint, filed here, claims ExxonMobil manipulates the quantity and timing of fuel deliveries to overcharge franchisees. In addition, the company divided the state into 100 different zones, charging varying prices for the same quality and grade of fuel, according to the complaint cited by the paper.

"Exxon has unlawfully utilized its control over virtually all aspects of plaintiffs' stations in a manner that has threatened the continued viability of the stations as ongoing businesses," the complaint states.

Meanwhile, the United Dealers New Jersey, owners and operators of more than 100 Exxon stations in the state, planned to stage a protest yesterday in conjunction with the filing at the Exxon on the Run located at 1175 Palisade Avenue in Fort Lee, reported.

In the lawsuit, United Dealers New Jersey also alleges the following:

-- ExxonMobil has continued to significantly increase rent on its franchise owners, despite the declining real estate market.
-- ExxonMobil, as the market leader, has threatened to sell all of its New Jersey franchise locations to a jobber. If that happens, other oil companies are likely to follow with similar sales, resulting in higher costs and higher prices.

ExxonMobil spokesman Kevin Allexon said the company intends to defend itself against the lawsuit, according to the Times.

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