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March 2, 2004

Davenport Citgo Business Sued for Consumer Fraud

Weights & Measures Bureau of Iowa Agriculture Dept. found regular-grade gasoline in super premium tanks at Citgo station.

Davenport.   The State has filed a consumer fraud lawsuit alleging that a Davenport Citgo station placed lower-grade regular unleaded gasoline in tanks meant for mid-grade and super premium gasoline, and charged super premium and mid-grade prices for the lower-grade gas.

The suit was filed by the Attorney General's Office based on investigation by the Iowa Department of Agriculture. The suit names Ranbir Thakur of Davenport, who operates Citgo #578 station at 3527 Spring St. in Davenport. Thakur does business as Diwan, LLC.

The suit, which was filed Friday in Scott County District Court, alleges that Thakur misled Iowa consumers by placing regular-grade gasoline (at 89 octane) into tanks for mid-grade regular (91 octane) and super premium gasoline (93 octane.) Judge Gary D. McKenrick immediately entered a temporary restraining order Friday prohibiting all sales of gasoline with lower octanes than advertised at the Citgo station signs and pumps.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture's Weights & Measures Bureau discovered the discrepancies while investigating a complaint from a tanker-truck driver. Further investigation found that samples from all three tanks (regular unleaded, mid-grade, and premium) contained lower-grade, 89-octane gasoline. After the samples were analyzed, the Department ordered the mid-grade and super premium tanks to be emptied and proper octanes be put into them.

According to the lawsuit, further investigation revealed that several gasoline tanker-truck drivers said Thakur would order more 89-octane regular unleaded gas than the station's regular unleaded tank could hold, and then would have drivers put the excess regular unleaded gasoline in the mid-grade or super premium grade gasoline tanks. One driver indicated this would occur in nine out of ten deliveries to Citgo #578. Others said it would happen on many occasions.

"We allege these practices are unfair, deceptive and fraudulent," said Attorney General Tom Miller.

The lawsuit asks the court to assess civil penalties up to $40,000 per violation of Iowa's Consumer Fraud Act.

The Weights & Measures Bureau of the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture is charged with inspecting and licensing all commercial weighing and measuring devices, including gas pumps. Gas pump inspections are conducted unannounced annually throughout the year.

Secretary of Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge said, "The inspections protect Iowa consumers and provide customers with a reasonable expectation of accuracy and value when purchasing gasoline and diesel fuel."

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