QuikTrip Requests 3rd Predatory-Pricing Lawsuit be Dismissed
Says plaintiffs cannot articulate a valid claim
ST. LOUIS -- Retailers West Moreland Service Inc., G.N.W. Enterprises Inc. and Halls Ferry have sought three times to sue QuikTrip Corp. on charges of predatory gasoline pricing and violations of federal and state retail-pricing protective acts. And this past week for the third time, QuikTrip has requested the complaint be dismissed.
"The dismissal is warranted because [the] plaintiffs do not (and cannot) articulate facts sufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," QuikTrip submitted in its dismissal request filed Aug. 13.
The complaint, filed April 7, claims QuikTrip engaged in a price war in the St. Louis area beginning in July 2011, "with QuikTrip posting reduced pricing changes for its gasoline on almost a daily basis ... in an effort to monopolize the sale of retail gasoline in the St. Louis metropolitan marketplace."
Both West Moreland and G.N.W. claim they were "forced … out of the St. Louis marketplace" by QT's alleged price war.
"The predatory price war engaged in by QuikTrip has caused injury to competition in the retail sale of gasoline in the St. Louis marketplace, which will ultimately cause harm to consumers in the form of higher gasoline prices dictated by QuikTrip," the lawsuit states.
Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip in its dismissal request notes that the plaintiffs filed almost identical lawsuits against QT on Dec. 2, 2011, and Oct. 5, 2012. In both cases, the lawsuits were dismissed. In the first instance, a judge ruled the plaintiffs, then referring to themselves as the Association of Independent Gas Station Owners, "lacked standing in both an individual and a representative capacity." In the second case, a judge ruled the plaintiffs failed to comply with the court in a timely manner.
In regard to the current complaint, QuikTrip claimed in its filing, which was obtained by CSP Daily News, that West Moreland Service has filed other lawsuits against the city of St. Louis and its gasoline supplier, accusing them in one way or another of plotting against the retailer. "West Moreland has attributed its alleged demise to actions by the city of St. Louis for allegedly allowing too much competition, to its supplier of gas and diesel fuel for allegedly charging too much to West Moreland for gasoline and wrongfully supplying West Moreland's competitors, and now to QuikTrip for allegedly not charging enough," the document states.
The plaintiffs, represented by attorney Eric Vickers, claim QuikTrip is in violation of three protective laws, including:
- The Robinson-Patman Act, a federal law that provides the public protection against predatory price cutting.
- The Sherman Act, a federal law meant to protect the public against monopoly economic power.
- The Missouri Motor Fuel Marketing Act, which was created to prevent predatory pricing in the sale of gasoline to the public that causes monopolistic takeovers and harm consumers in the form of higher gasoline prices.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs request the judge:
- Enjoin QT's pricing practices.
- Award the plaintiffs "in excess of $50 million," as well as court and attorney fees.
- Impose civil penalties on QT.
- Enjoin QT from being both a distributor and retailer of gasoline.
- Provide for additional relief as deemed appropriate.
Upon denouncing each of the claims in the complaint, QuikTrip requested the lawsuit be dismissed "with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."