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    Flying J Sues Wisconsin

    The travel stop chain seeks a halt to the state's enforcement of its minimum markup law, which was deemed unconstitutional last year.

    MADISON, Wis. -- Truck stop operator Flying J Inc. filed a suit in federal court here against the state of Wisconsin, over its minimum markup law designed to ensure fair competition among gas station owners, The Associated Press reported.

    The filing follows the ruling of another federal judge, who deemed the law unconstitutional in 2007. In October 2007, CSNews Online reported Federal Magistrate Judge William Callahan ruled that the law -- passed in 1939 to prevent large companies from driving smaller ones out of business -- violates federal antitrust laws and the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution because the state does not actively supervise it.

    The previous lawsuit was filed against Flying J by Kenosha, Wis.-based Lotus Business Group, operator of the Lotus Travel Center in DeForest, Wis., which alleged Flying J locations were illegally selling fuel at a price lower than the law allowed.

    Flying J filed a new lawsuit Jan. 29, asking the court to order the state to stop enforcing the minimum markup law, which requires retailers to sell gasoline above the cost they paid -- either 6 percent more or 9.18 percent over the average local wholesale price, whichever is higher, the AP reported.

    The company alleges that while the state did not appeal the earlier ruling, it is still is enforcing the law despite it being found unconstitutional. By doing so, the state's fuel pricing market "chills open competition," challenges the authority of federal courts to enforce the law and undermines the Constitution, the AP reported, citing the lawsuit.

    A spokesman for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen had no comment on the lawsuit. The state has until Feb. 19 to reply, according to the AP.

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