SunMart sued for allegedly cheating consumers at the pump

Chris Rizo Jul. 31, 2008, 10:00am

AUSTIN (Legal Newsline)--Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Thursday he was suing the parent company of SunMart gas stations for allegedly cheating motorists at its pumps.

Petroleum Wholesale, L.P., which owns SunMart, was found in a Texas Department of Agriculture investigation to be operating pumps that shortchange consumers.

"Texans are paying record gas prices, and when they purchase a gallon of gas, they expect to receive a full gallon," Abbott said. "Today's enforcement action charges the defendant with shortchanging Texas drivers at the pump."

The Republican attorney general said he is seeking civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act as well as attorneys' fees and customer restitution.

Abbott alleges that the Woodlands-based company maintained fuel pumps that were improperly calibrated in a manner that benefited the company financially.

Investigators from the state Department of Agriculture earlier this month determined that 985 of the company's 1,704 pumps were dispensing less than a full gallon of gas or diesel fuel.

Petroleum Wholesale, which operates SunMart stations in more than 350 locations throughout 10 states, is also accused of intentionally obstructing the investigation by dispatching pump calibration technicians to several of its locations ahead of inspectors.

Additionally, some SunMart stations put "out of order" signs on their pumps in an effort to prevent them from being inspected. The pumps were found to be operational by investigators.

The lawsuit marks the attorney general's second enforcement action against Petroleum Wholesale in less than two months.

On June 19, Abbott charged the company with violations of the Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act for improperly dumping hundreds of customer records that contained sensitive information.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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