TheBostonChannel.com: Drivers Suing Shell, Texaco, Refinery Over Bad Gas
Posted 4 June, 2004
Lawsuit Claims High-Sulfur Gas Ruined Gas Gauges
MIRAMAR, Fla. -- Two drivers are suing Shell Oil, Texaco and a refinery, claiming the gas gauges on their cars were damaged by high-sulfur gas.
The class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday could come to represent thousands of motorists in south Florida who are furious over the prospect of facing high repair bills. Named in the lawsuit are Shell, its subsidiary, Texaco, and Motiva Enterprises, a Louisiana-based refinery. Observers say the legal action could soon come to represent thousands of motorists.
The problem arose after several drivers complained that the high-sulfur gas damaged their cars and caused costly repair bills they don't feel they should have to pay, Miami television station WTVJ reported.
"I called the dealership and they said it would be from $600 to $900 to fix it, and I said 'Good grief,'" said Richard Wickliffe, a south Florida motorist.
"The beef is either Shell knew they were sending out tainted gasoline and hoped nobody would pin it on them or that it wouldn't cause much of a problem, or if they didn't know, why don't they have a mechanism in place to test the gas before they get 9,000 calls from people saying, 'Hey, my car is dead,'” said Ian Kravitz, the lawsuit's co-counsel.
The high-sulfur gas was apparently contaminated at a refinery in Louisiana and was delivered to several hundred stations in Louisiana and Florida.
It allegedly damaged sensitive circuitry in fuel gauges, causing them to display a full tank when they were empty, stranding many motorists on the side of the road.
Shell scrambled to try to fix the problem, but it may not have worked in time.
As a result, more than 400 Shell and Texaco stations across the state stopped selling the bad gas last week, just before the Memorial Day holiday.
Some are saying the high-sulfur gas may not be exclusive to Shell and Texaco and that other stations may have sold it, too.
Spokespeople for Shell and Motiva said they had not had a chance to look at the lawsuit and had no comment.
They recommended that drivers who have experienced problems with their fuel contact Shell's customer service line at (888) 502-7323 or click here for more information or to file a claim.