Lawsuits Around The Country Allege that "Hot Fuel" is Costing Motorists

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas is among the states where court challenges have been filed that claim fuel companies are reaping an unfair windfall profit with summertime fuel sales.

As the temperature rises, liquid gasoline expands and the amount of energy in each gallon drops.  Since gasoline is priced at a 60-degree standard and gas pumps don't adjust for any temperature changes, the suits say motorists often get less bang for their buck in warmer weather.

Consumer watchdog groups warn that the temperature hike could end up costing consumers between three and nine cents a gallon at the pump.

The issue has driven trial lawyers to fire off as many as 20 federal lawsuits accusing retailers of using simple physics to take advantage of consumers.  Challenges have been filed in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kansas, Missouri and New Jersey, among other states and some are seeking class-action status.

Congress has also gotten involved.  Democratic U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has called a hearing on the issue.  Trucking companies and motorists behind the lawsuits hope they can force politicians to act.

A trade group representing truck stop owners estimates that each retrofitted pump could cost as much as $3,800 and is working to block any change.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)