In June 2008, ExxonMobil said it was getting out of the retail gasoline business. As a result, it's seen a big spike in the litigation business. Some 65 ExxonMobil franchisees who operate stations in Maryland have sued the oil behemoth, claiming that sale of some stations--and the planned sale of others--constitutes a breach of contract and a violation of the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act. But in a November 6 decision, Greenbelt federal district court judge Alexander Williams, Jr., ruled that the plaintiffs whose gas stations haven't been sold don't yet have a claim. He also denied the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction to bar the sale of more franchises.
Kevin Allexon, a spokesperson for ExxonMobil, told us the company was pleased with the decision. "The law does not recognize claims based on conjecture and speculation," he said.
Allexon declined to comment on the claims made by the franchisees whose stations were sold. Those are pending. Andrew Kassof and Mark Lillie of Kirkland & Ellis and Maurice Bellan of Arent Fox represent Exxon.
Harry Storm of Lerch, Early & Brewer, an attorney for the plaintiffs, declined to comment. But a spokesperson for the plaintiffs told The Baltimore Sun that the decision "left the door wide open" for the franchisees to return to court once their stations are sold.
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