A federal judge in Kansas City, Kan., has signed off on settlements with 28 oil companies and retailers in litigation claiming customers were knowingly overcharged when gas station fuel temperatures rose.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys said in a news release Friday that the judge had given approval to settlements in the so-called hot fuel litigation, which worked its way through the courts for years after The Kansas City Star reported extensively on the “hot fuel” problem in 2006.
Six companies — BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and Sinclair Oil — agreed to pay nearly $23 million to reimburse retailers for installing equipment that corrects for temperature effects on fuel.
Some of that money, along with an additional $1.6 million from other defendants, will be used to help states oversee retail fuel sales, the plaintiffs’ release said.
As temperatures rise during warmer months, gasoline expands, meaning customers get less energy per gallon. The volume of fuel is pegged to a 60-degree standard, at which the 231-cubic-inch American gallon puts out a set amount of energy.
If the temperature of that gasoline rises to 90 degrees, though, it expands to more than 235 cubic inches — but a gallon still gives the consumer 231 cubic inches, which at the higher temperature contains less energy.
The settlements approved by the judge were worked out over two years by the plaintiffs and defendants, according to Bob Horn, the lead attorney representing consumers in the case. Final approval hearings for the settlements are scheduled for June 9, online court records show.
The Star’s Steve Everly contributed to this report.