Award in Texas gas station dealers' lawsuit against Exxon climbs

A federal judge in Corpus Christi, Tex., set the total award in an independent gas station dealers' lawsuit against Exxon Corp. at about $10 million, including attorney fees, court costs, and interest, an attorney said. The judgment followed a jury verdict of $5.7 million in November 2000.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON -- A federal judge in Corpus Christi, Tex., Thursday set the total award in an independent gas station dealers' lawsuit against Exxon Corp. at about $10 million, including attorney fees, court costs, and interest, an attorney said.

The judgment from U.S. District Court Judge Hayden W. Head Jr. followed a jury verdict of $5.7 million in November 2000. The jury found Exxon had breached its contracts with independent gas station dealers, known as lessee-dealers, by overcharging them for their gasoline.

"The jury verdict and this judgment confirms our contention that Exxon systematically set out to run the independent dealers out of business and then replace their gas stations with company-owned shops," said Anthony Farah, attorney with the Houston-based law firm Fleming & Associates LLP.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 70 gas station dealers from Corpus Christi and Houston, but only 55 dealers are slated to recover damages, Farah said, adding the rest were no longer Exxon dealers when the jury verdict was announced.

Exxon is now ExxonMobil Corp. An ExxonMobil spokeswoman from New York said her company has not yet made a decision on whether to appeal.

Farah said attorney fees as announced by Judge Head were $2.28 million, that court costs were $133,287, and that the rest was interest to be paid dating back to Feb. 2, 1999, when the lawsuit was filed.

The gas station dealers sought damages for excessive gasoline prices charged by Exxon. Under the terms of their agreements with Exxon, they were required to buy their gas from Exxon at prices set by the corporation.

The jury found that Exxon did not set these prices in good faith, breaching the agreements.

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