Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Collects for Gas Fiasco but Customers Must Wait; Their Best Hope Is a $5 Million Class-Action Suit Filed against the Two Stations

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Collects for Gas Fiasco but Customers Must Wait; Their Best Hope Is a $5 Million Class-Action Suit Filed against the Two Stations

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

KINGSLAND - Independent truck driver Jimmy Williams knows how much loyalty can cost.

The Jacksonville resident said he has the receipts to prove he spent at least $1,000 a week in fuel purchases the past two years at the Cisco Travel Plaza off Interstate 95 at Exit 1 in St. Marys before state inspectors shut down the station for more that two weeks last month.

On Feb. 12, inspectors determined the truck stop and another Cisco Travel Plaza at Exit 6 in Camden County were shorting customers about a quart of fuel for every five gallons the pumps gauges indicated was pumped.

Thousands of truck drivers, business owners and individual customers were shorted on their fuel purchases, investigators said.

Many of those suffering the biggest losses, like Williams, have contacted attorneys, accountants, investigators and state regulatory agencies seeking a timely way to recoup their losses.

State Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin said the pumps were deliberately altered. The two stations reopened Feb. 27 after the owners of the truck stops agreed to pay a $250,000 fine in punitive damages to the state. The fine will go into the state's general fund, Irvin said.

If all the estimates are true, Williams estimates he overpaid as much as $15,000 in fuel purchases at the station.

While the state was quick to collect its fines, Williams said consumers like him are still waiting for some type of compensation.

While a $5 million class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of everyone who was defrauded on their purchases, Williams said he doesn't want to wait - possibly for years - before a settlement and he is compensated for his losses.

He is exploring options such as taking his receipts to an accountant and asking if he can write off the extra money he spent on fuel as a business loss.

"As far as getting ripped off, they haven't paid us for that, yet," he said. …

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