Georgia sues 'oil giants' over hot gas - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia sues 'oil giants' over hot gas

July 12, 2007

Albany--High gas prices combined with hot temperatures are prompting many states to take legal action against major gas companies.

Georgia has now become the latest state to do so.  The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Georgia, claims that distributors have been "unjustly enriched" by tens of millions of dollars.

As many as twenty lawsuits have been filed against major gas companies claiming that it's not just increased demand that sends gas prices soaring, but it's also the increased temperature.

Now one Georgia attorney says he's on a mission to do something about it.

Just when prices couldn't get higher, warmer temperatures are adding to a consumer's misery at the pump.

"You can barely drive your car now because gas is so high," says driver, Wytarium Brown.

Higher temperatures cause gas to expand, costing drivers, like Brown, between three and nine cents a gallon.

"I don't like that at all. They're cheating us out of money. Whatever I pay for gas, that's how much I want to get for it, I want to get my money's worth," says Brown.

Other drivers feel exactly the same way.

"We're being ripped off. There's just no other way to put it.  It's just another way of getting your money. On a hot day you're going to get less for your money," says driver, L.O. Case.

And now one Georgia lawyer is fighting back.

"Our case seeks a refund for all the over payments in reported taxes," says Atlanta attorney Bryan Vroon.

Vroon says a congressional report shows that hot gas is costing customers $1.5 billion this summer alone.

"The average temperature of fuel in Georgia is seventy-two degrees.  They shouldn't exploit physics by selling hot expanded gas at the pump and not adjusting for temperatures because it really damages millions of consumers," says Vroon.

By industry and government standards, a gallon of gasoline at 60 degrees measures 231 cubic inches. But Vroon says there's just one problem with those figures when it comes the amount of taxes gas companies pay.

"They pay the government as if the gas was sixty degrees farenheit, but in fact the average temperature of gas sold in Georgia is much warmer than that," says Vroon.

As gas prices remain well-above the two dollar mark, drivers like Brown, hope the lawsuit brings some much needed relief in sight to the pain that still lingers at the pump.

"They need to pursue that lawsuit because gas is just extremely too high," says Brown.

More than a 100 defendants are named in all these lawsuits including ExxonMobil and Chevron.

The Georgia attorney says he hopes the lawsuits prompt oil companies to install temperature adjustment gages that compensate for gasoline that's at higher temperatures than sixty degrees.

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