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Greensfelder team leads BP to significant victory in gasoline pricing trial

August 17, 2015

A team of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. attorneys helped client BP beat claims of unfair pricing from gas station franchisees, with a month long trial concluding in a favorable jury verdict for the global energy giant.

During the trial in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, the four plaintiffs — past and present owners of ARCO-branded gas stations — argued that BP had charged them unfairly high prices for wholesale gasoline. The case’s status as a bellwether trial for hundreds of other dealers suing over the same claims, totaling up to $2 billion, lends further importance to the victory for BP.

David M. Harris led Greensfelder’s team as lead counsel for BP, and Greensfelder attorneys Dawn Johnson and Daniel Garner assisted. Attorneys from Arnold & Porter LLP were co-counsel for BP.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys maintained that BP should have sold gas to the ARCO stations — a brand with a significant California presence and known for relatively low gas prices —  at the same prices as unbranded gasoline sold to other low-cost retailers such as Costco. But BP attorneys, led by Harris, successfully argued that because BP was selling the dealers branded gasoline that comes with sales support and other brand benefits, the higher prices were fair. They also presented evidence and expert testimony to demonstrate that the dealers had run successful businesses regardless of gas pricing. The jury agreed that BP’s pricing was fair.

The ARCO owners originally filed suit in 2011, and the four plaintiffs in this case had sought up to $2 million total, including $1.6 million on the pricing claims. They ultimately were awarded less than $70,000, with that amount resulting from claims and counter-claims over issues with a software system BP required franchisees to use.

The trial concluded Aug. 14. The lead case is Hoskin Hogan v. BP West Coast Products LLC, BC460880.

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