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The Wall Street Journal: Florida Drivers Sue Shell Over High-sulfur Gasoline

June 1, 2004 11:08 p.m.
Posted 2 June 02

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP)--Amid thousands of similar complaints, two drivers who say fuel gauges on their cars were damaged by high-sulfur gasoline sued Shell Oil Co. and its refiner Tuesday in federal court.

Cynthia Chowdhury and Marilyn Fisher accused Shell and Motiva Enterprises LLC. of violating Florida law by engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices.

The suit says the companies knew, or should have known, that gasoline with high levels of sulfur would damage vehicles, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

The drivers seek class-action status and a court order to force the companies to inspect affected vehicles for up to a year and cover the cost of any repairs.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Shell said it received about 15,000 calls from consumers in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana about the tainted gas. About 9,000 claims have been filed to fix faulty gas gauges in the three states.

Motiva spokeswoman Helen Bow said the first reimbursement checks for claims that have been resolved will go out Friday.

About 400 Shell and Texaco stations, including 300 in south Florida, were affected by high levels of sulfur in gas supplied by Motiva. A small number of stations with other brand names also may have received the bad gas because Shell and Motiva have exchange agreements with other suppliers.

Shell officials have said the sulfur-tainted fuel can corrode silver sensors in fuel gauges. Repairs can cost from $300 to $600 or more.


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