Zizik Powers Attorneys Successfully Defend Petroleum Company and Secure Motion for Summary Judgment in a Gasoline Price-Fixing and Price-Gouging Case

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Brian O'Connell and Bill Fidurko secure summary judgment in favor of their client, Drake Petroleum.

Zizik, Powers, O’Connell, Spaulding & Lamontagne, P.C. (http://www.zizikpowers.com/firm_profile.html) attorneys Brian O’Connell and Bill Fidurko successfully defended Drake Petroleum Company in a putative class action before the United States District Court of Massachusetts, and secured a summary judgment ruling in favor of their client, Drake Petroleum (07CV11601-RWZ. United District Court, District of Massachusetts. Zobel, D.J.).

Drake Petroleum, which is one of the largest independent petroleum distributors in the New England area, is located in North Grosvenordale, CT.

The plaintiffs, a group of residents and a corporation from the island of Martha’s Vineyard, alleged a decade long conspiracy to fix gasoline prices. The plaintiffs also accused the defendants of price-gouging following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Plaintiffs sued four gas stations from Martha’s Vineyard alleging violation of the Sherman Act and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. The defendants moved for summary judgment on both counts.

O’Connell and Fidurko (http://www.zizikpowers.com/attorney_profiles/index.html) successfully argued to a federal district judge that the plaintiffs’ evidence of price-fixing was insufficient for a reasonable jury to conclude that the defendants had an actual agreement to fix prices and were not acting independently. They convinced the Court that the plaintiffs’ evidence of similar prices and other conduct was as consistent with permissible competition as with illegal conspiracy and therefore did not support an inference of anti-trust conspiracy.

In addition, O’Connell and Fidurko, in a case of first impression, won a victory for their client on the issue of price-gouging by arguing persuasively that the price fluctuations at the defendants’ gas stations after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were consistent with the normal operation of the market and therefore not unconscionable under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. The decision resulted in the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint against the defendants in its entirety.

Founded in 1988, Zizik, Powers, O'Connell, Spaulding & Lamontagne, P.C. concentrates its practice on civil litigation, including insurance, business, construction, employment, product liability, and environmental cases, as well as alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") and appeals. The firm has received the highest ("AV") rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and is listed in Best's Directory of Recommended Insurance Attorneys and Adjusters.

Zizik, Powers, O'Connell, Spaulding & Lamontagne, P.C. is a member of the International Society of Primerus Law Firms (Primerus). Primerus (http://www.primerus.com/about.htm) is the leading alliance of small and medium sized, top-rated, independent firms. With approximately 141 law firms located in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the U.K., Primerus firms (http://www.primerus.com/membership_benefits.htm) provide clients with responsive, high quality, partner-level service for much less than what large law firms charge. All Primerus law firms are: AV- rated using the Martindale-Hubbell peer review service; screened for excellence; audited annually for continued quality; and committed to excellence in six key areas; integrity, reasonable fees, continuing education, civility, community service and excellent work product.

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