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Consistent with its earlier ruling, a California District Court denied a request by Coast Village to receive $2 million in attorney and expert witness fees from Houston-based Equilon Enterprises LLC.
The Coast Village v. Equilon case, filed by a group of 20 gasoline dealers operating in the Los Angeles area, claimed that the new franchise agreements and rent program were intended to drive them out of business and violated their rights under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA). In August, a District Court judge found there was no evidence supporting their claim.
Coast Village was seeking $648,000 in attorney fees, plus $66,685 in expert witness fees for a variety of witnesses.
In the courts decision, Judge Audrey Collins denied the plaintiffs' request saying Coast Village "expressly failed to substantiate their claim" that Equilon's franchise agreements were prepared in bad faith and for the purpose of driving the lessee dealers out of business.
"After the court initially ruled in Equilon's favor, we felt confident they would deny the plaintiffs' request for reimbursement of an excessive amount in fees," said David Burrow, general manager for Equilon's Pacific South Region. "Once again, this decision further reinforces Equilon's position that the new franchise agreements were developed in good faith."
Equilon is a U.S. joint venture between Texaco and Shell Oil Company. The company refines and markets Shell- and Texaco-branded products in 32 Western and Midwestern states through a branded network of more than 14,000 stores.