QuikTrip Requests Dismissal of Price-War Lawsuit
Says plaintiff failed to meet legal grounds
ST. LOUIS -- Four months after being accused of engaging in a price war to drive other gasoline retailers out of business in the St. Louis market, QuikTrip's attorneys have made a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on several legal grounds, among them the fact that the plaintiff--the Association of Independent Gas Station Owners (AIGO)--"has suffered no injury."
"Because AIGO does not itself own or operate any retail gas stations, it has not suffered, nor could it suffer the injuries claimed in the complaint," QuikTrip wrote in a legal document filed April 16 and accessed by CSP Daily News.
In November, AIGO filed the complaint with the Eastern Division Court of Missouri claiming "QuikTrip's below-cost predatory pricing" has forced the plaintiffs "to set prices for gasoline below their costs in order to sustain their presence in the marketplace."
"QuikTrip has engaged in this predatory price war of selling gasoline below its costs in order to dominate the marketplace in a manner that will allow it to recoup any losses it incurred as a result of its selling gasoline below its cost," stated the complaint.
QuikTrip, however, claims that AIGO fails to meet legal definitions to warrant the lawsuit in several instances, including:AIGO has suffered no injury.
- AIGO is not the appropriate vehicle to litigate the claims.
- Interstate commerce is not alleged.
- Predatory pricing is not alleged.
- A relevant product market is not alleged.
- A relevant geographic market is not alleged.
- AIGO has not alleged recoupment as required for a predatory claim.
- AIGO failed to allege attempted monopolization.
The attorney for AIGO has requested a deadline of Tuesday, May 8, to respond to QuikTrip's motion to dismiss.
The alleged price war, which the original complaint states began on or around July 1, "has forced independent gas station owners out of the St. Louis marketplace … caused injury and damage to plaintiffs and other independent gas station owners in the St. Louis marketplace … [and] 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 AIGO, which is represented by West Moreland Service Inc. dba Go West Mart, George Minkevich and Edward Montgomery, requested in the original complaint that the court:
- Enjoin QT's pricing practices.
- Award the plaintiffs "in excess of $50 million," as well as court and attorney fees.
- Impose penalties on QT.
- Provide for additional relief as deemed appropriate.