Retailers Sue Gasoline Distributor

Alabama store owners accuse Mitchell Oil of price gouging

FORT PAYNE, Ala. -- A group of Alabama convenience store owners has filed a lawsuit against Mitchell Oil Co. in Fort Payne, claiming the fuel distributor gouged them by setting unfair prices, according to a report in the Fort Payne Times-Journal.

The eight plaintiffs, whose stores are supplied by Mitchell Oil Co., claim the company violated its contract by charging them wholesale prices greater than those being charged by other gasoline retailers in the same market.

The plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount in damages. [image-nocss] The suit was filed Sept. 30. Bill Mitchell, vice-president of Mitchell Oil, declined comment to both the newspaper and CSP Daily News.

Specifically, the lawsuit claims Mitchell Oil Co. charged wholesale prices for gasoline and diesel to plaintiffs in excess of retail prices and has otherwise acted in bad faith and in a manner willfully and intentionally intended to harm plaintiffs. It further claims Mitchell Oil violated Alabama law by failing to fix [the price of fuel] in good faith.

Plaintiffs listed in the case are Frank Kirby, Barry Justice, Vickie Justice, Kathy Hartline, James Powell, Gary Kilgore and Destiny Investment. According to the lawsuit, all own and or operate convenience stores throughout DeKalb County, Jackson County and Cherokee County in Alabama.

The plaintiffs want Mitchell Oil to provide a detailed accounting of the business between Mitchell Oil and the plaintiffs businesses, including a description of how Mitchell Oil calculates commissions owed to plaintiffs; how it determines the price plaintiffs are charged for gasoline and diesel fuel; and to explain why Mitchell [Oil] charges gasoline prices to plaintiffs higher than retail prices of gasoline in [the local] market area.

The plaintiffs ask Mitchell Oil to produce a large number of various types of documents relevant to the lawsuit dating from up to 10 years ago, including all documents in [Mitchell Oil's] possession reflecting, embodying or referring to any refunds, discounts, premiums, kickbacks, deductions, commission or any other thing of value received by Mitchell from any third party from whom Mitchell purchased gasoline.