Pilot Flying J on list of objectors to $25M ‘hot fuel’ settlement, citing how money will be spent

pilot flying jPilot Travel Centers and its subsidiary Flying J have joined roughly a dozen other fuel and convenience store chains in legally objecting to the proposed $25 million “hot fuel” settlement struck earlier this year, according to court documents filed March 23.

The fuel providers object to the way the settlement funds are designated to be spent, with too little going to the victims in the case and too much going to state governments and fuel wholesalers and retailers, the objectors argue.

The key concern of the objectors is the institution of a fund — required by the settlement reached in January — that makes payments to state governments when they change their laws to require fuel providers to install automatic temperature compensation (ATC) equipment at fuel pumps.

The objectors say that money “end run[s]” legislators and regulators, who previously have rejected laws to implement ATC equipment. The fund also does little to directly benefit class members, the defendants claim in their March 23 filing.

The “hot fuel” lawsuits stemmed from fuel buyers’ claims that fuel providers violated consumer protection laws by not disclosing that fuel expands in warmer temperatures, thereby making a gallon of gas or diesel contain less energy and be worth less in warmer months. Some of the lawsuits originated as long ago as 2006.

Pilot Flying J and Love’s were included in a settlement with 18 other companies that agreed to pay $1.5775 million in a larger roughly $25 million settlement. BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and Sinclair were on the hook for $22.925 million combined.

The court granted approval to the settlement in January, and a fairness hearing is set for June 9.

Click here to read more on the January settlement from CCJ’s earlier reporting.