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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Shell Oil has been denied a preliminary injunction by U.S. Distrcit Court Judge Jeremy Fogel that would force gas station owner Mehdi Shahbazi to leave his Marina, Calif. gas station, reported the Mercury News.
This is one small round for Shahbazi, who is accused of breaking franchise agreements and defaming Shell, the report stated.
The case has gotten national attention, and the denial of this injunction means that Shahbazi can continue with his station's business, despite Shell's belief that he is illegally occupying Shell-owned property, since it terminated the lease in November, reported the Mercury News.
According to the report, the case started when Shahbazi passed out fliers and displayed signs at his station criticizing Big Oil.
Shahbazi displayed his first sign in November, which read "Consumers' pain is Big Oil's unearned profit! To oppose it see cashier," the report stated.
Fliers distributed in the store said that oil companies were trying to drive franchisees out of business by selling gas at lower prices at company-owned stores, the report said.
The Mercury News reported that Shell has dismissed these accusations.
Shell cut the station's fuel lines when Shahbazi refused to take down the signs in November, after he was warned by Shell's distributor. Shahbazi saw this as an attack on his freedom of speech, according to the report, and has continued operating his c-store and car wash. Local customers are visiting his station to provide support, the report stated.
Shahbazi told the Mercury News that he will "continue keeping the station open as many hours as I can and go from here." He added "I wasn't surprised at the decision, Judge Fogel is a very fair judge."
Shell's representative in the case, attorney Colin West told the Mercury News that he was not surprised that the injunction was denied, noting that they are hard to get.
In his ruling, Judge Fogel noted that Shell was denied because it has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits and the possibility of "irreparable injury." This is because it failed to give a 90 day notice to Shahbazi about the termination of the franchise agreement, as well as a lack of any evidence of irreparable injury, the report stated.