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Gasoline cost suit green-lighted

March 29, 2007|From Bloomberg News

Exxon Mobil Corp. and four other U.S. gasoline retailers must face a lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to drive up the price of the fuel, a federal judge ruled.

Exxon, Marathon Oil Corp., Citgo Petroleum Corp. and U.S. affiliates of Royal Dutch Shell and BP are accused in the complaint of intentionally limiting the available gasoline supply, driving up prices and boosting profits, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve in Chicago said Monday.

"Facts consistent with these allegations could establish that defendants unjustly enriched themselves or acted deceptively or unfairly," St. Eve said, rejecting the companies' request that she dismiss the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status on behalf of all affected Illinois consumers. Some claims in the complaint were dismissed.

The ruling allows Chicago-area plaintiffs Michael and Rebecca Siegel, who filed the complaint under Illinois' consumer fraud statute, to demand evidence and testimony from the companies to buttress their claims.

Representatives of the companies named in the lawsuit declined to comment.

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