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Major Court Decision Against Three 'Hot Fuel' Claims

July 23, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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Late last week a federal judge in California ruled to dismiss three cases against Chevron filed by plaintiffs who claimed the oil and fuel giant failed to disclose the effect warmer temperatures have when it comes to dispensing fuel at the pumps causing customers to overpay.

The judge, Kathryn H. Vratil, determined California law has no such requirements.

"Plaintiffs are in the difficult position of arguing that California law does not authorize the manner in which Chevron sells motor fuel in California (which is the same way every motor fuel retailer has sold motor fuel throughout the United States for more than a century). Plaintiffs' arguments are ultimately unconvincing."

The rulings stem from the consolidation in Kansas City of several “hot fuel” lawsuits filed around the country following a series of stories by the Kansas City Star newspaper several years ago demonstrating consumers of both gasoline and diesel were getting less energy in a gallon of fuel when its warmer, due to the expansion of the liquid.

The case, along with others, were returned from Kansas City federal court following pretrial proceedings, back to the states, where there are now being heard in court.

The ruling is the second major blow in this series of cases. Last September a jury in Kansas City turned back class action claims against fuel retailers bilking customers. Some retailers and other big oil companies earlier agreed to settle claims by installing devices on fuel pumps to compensate for temperatures when fuel is dispensed.

It’s believed this most recent ruling could affect the outcome in other cases around the country, as well as other cases still pending in the Golden State.

Proponents of doing something about “hot fuel” claim temperature is taken into account in every other part of fuel supply chain, except at the retail level. They note the standard temperature measurement is 60 degrees, but when the fuel is warmer it expands, resulting in less than a “true gallon” of fuel. Conversely, and argued by some oil companies and fuel retailers, it is also sold below that temperature at times, and any change in temperature in negligible.

Proponents note fuel temperature compensation devices are on pumps on Hawaii, due to its naturally warm climate, where fuel is sold warmer, as well as in Canada which it is generally cooler and it’s advantageous to both oil companies and fuel retailers to have temperature compensation devices on fuel pumps.

Related Stories:

Costco "Hot Fuel" Settlement Approved

Three More Companies Settle in 'Hot Fuel' Suits

Judge Orders Rewrite of Hot Fuel Settlements

Comments

  1. 1. Clifford Downing [ July 24, 2013 @ 04:01AM ]

    I have been trucking for over 3 decades and I have not seen this so-called "hot fuel". Most times, the only thing that is noticable is when I driver fills a truck in the evening and then sits all night and in the morning the fuel level has gone down. Is hot fuel the culprit? Sure is. But not any so-called "hot fuel" from the pump but the real hot fuel that was already in the tanks to begin with. Diesels return a lot of heated fuel to tanks, and I do mean heated with an emphasis. So much so, that a condition called Asphaltine occurs where the fuel is literally cooked to the point of partilcles of carbon join and create an almost asphalt like product. The OEM's all have additives one can add to a tank to break this down. The heated fuel from the pump is not well established to any degree. This is why it hasn't gone anywhere in all the years of litigation.

  2. 2. Clifford Downing [ July 24, 2013 @ 04:02AM ]

    I have been trucking for over 3 decades and I have not seen this so-called "hot fuel". Most times, the only thing that is noticable is when I driver fills a truck in the evening and then sits all night and in the morning the fuel level has gone down. Is hot fuel the culprit? Sure is. But not any so-called "hot fuel" from the pump but the real hot fuel that was already in the tanks to begin with. Diesels return a lot of heated fuel to tanks, and I do mean heated with an emphasis. So much so, that a condition called Asphaltine occurs where the fuel is literally cooked to the point of partilcles of carbon join and create an almost asphalt like product. The OEM's all have additives one can add to a tank to break this down. The heated fuel from the pump is not well established to any degree. This is why it hasn't gone anywhere in all the years of litigation.

  3. 3. G. V. FOREMAN [ July 24, 2013 @ 08:58AM ]

    Fuel is effected by changes in temperature. When the temperature drops, fuel contracts, when the temperature rises, fuel expands. The law of thermal dynamics dictates the higher the temperature the greater expansion, the lower the temperature the greater the contraction. Temperatures effect on fluids is called the “expansion co-efficient” of the fluid. The expansion rate(co-efficient) for diesel is given as 0.00046% per degree above 60 degrees FH. Sixty degrees is the calibration temperature for fuel pumps established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. For every single degree increase above sixty degrees, the consumer loses 0.00046% of purchased fuel owing to duel expansion. As an example, assume one is pumping diesel at an ambient(outside) temperature of 90 degrees FH or thirty degrees above the calibrated temperature. The thirty degree increase will result in a fuel lost of 0.0138%(30 X 0.00046). While the fuel pump may reflect a fuel purchase of 100 gallons, the purchaser is actually receiving only 98.62 gallons of fuel. The purchaser is actually losing $5, based on a per gallon cost of $3.65 per gallon of diesel, per one hundred gallons of purchase. Granted, such lost varies with temperature and price of fuel and may lead one to minimize or downplay the effect of such lost. However, when one expands such lost to the entirety of the trucking industry, to the ultimate lost as translated through the supply chain(after all it will be passed on to the customers) the lost revenue value is astronomical.
    As mentioned in this article, since the early 90's Canada has required the installation of temperature compensator. What the article fails to mention is the Canadian legislation requiring the installation of compensator was lobbied for and supported by the oil industry. The same oil industry, in fact the same oil companies, fighting such a requirement for the US fuel industry. Why? Because Canada's cooler climate resulted in contrac

  4. 4. G. V. FOREMAN [ July 24, 2013 @ 09:01AM ]


    (CONTINUED)
    As mentioned in this article, since the early 90's Canada has required the installation of temperature compensator. What the article fails to mention is the Canadian legislation requiring the installation of compensator was lobbied for and supported by the oil industry. The same oil industry, in fact the same oil companies, fighting such a requirement for the US fuel industry. Why? Because Canada's cooler climate resulted in contraction of diesel and gasoline costing the oil companies revenue. The companies were losing money. In the US, because of the countries overall higher temperatures, oil companies are making money on the phantom fuel being pumped.

 

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