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Siegel v. Shell Oil Co.

September 23, 2008

MICHAEL SIEGEL AND REBECCA SIEGEL, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SHELL OIL COMPANY, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, BP CORPORATION NORTH AMERICA, INC., AN INDIANA CORPORATION, CITGO PETROLEUM CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, MARATHON OIL COMPANY, AN OHIO CORPORATION, AND EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION, A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

In their Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs Michael and Rebecca Siegel allege that Defendants Shell Oil Company, BP Corporation North America, Inc., Citgo Petroleum Corporation, Marathon Oil Company, and Exxon Mobil Corporation are liable under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, 815 ILCS 505/1, et. seq., and the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, 815 ILCS § 510/2, for deceptive and unfair practices (Counts I and II), unjust enrichment (Count III), and civil conspiracy (Count IV). Plaintiffs also allege that Defendants are liable to the purported nationwide class members under the consumer fraud statutes and common law of various other states. Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. For the following reasons, the Court, in its discretion, denies Plaintiffs' motion.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants dominate the market for gasoline in the United States and control a substantial portion of the nation's gasoline supply. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have used their market dominance to increase the price of gasoline to consumers by (1) controlling inventory, production, and exports, (2) limiting supply, (3) restricting purchase, (4) using "zone pricing," (5) falsely advertising the scarceness of gasoline, and (6) excessively marking up the price between gasoline and crude oil prices.

Plaintiffs seek to certify a nationwide class, and define the proposed class as follows: "All purchasers who made retail purchases of any Defendants' branded gasoline throughout the United States between December 2002 and the date of judgment in this lawsuit." Plaintiffs seek to pursue the following state-law causes of action:

1. A national (including the District of Columbia) unjust enrichment class sounding in tort;

2. A national (including the District of Columbia) unjust enrichment class sounding in quasi-contract;

3. A 45-state (and the District of Columbia) deceptive practices by omissions class;

4. A 21-state unfairness class, including a 5-state subclass pursuant to recovery under so-called "excessive price" statutes or regulations;

5. An 11-state class based upon Defendants' unconscionable conduct; and

6. A national (including the District of Columbia) civil conspiracy class.*fn1

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) states that "[o]ne or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all only if (1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class, (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class, and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class." Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a); Oshana v. Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 513 (7th Cir. 2006). Failure to meet any of these Rule 23(a) requirements precludes class certification. See id.; see also Pruitt v. City of Chicago, 472 F.3d 925, 926-27 (7th Cir. 2006).

In addition to satisfying the requirements under Rule 23(a), a party seeking class certification must also establish that the proposed class satisfies one of the requirements set forth in Rule 23(b). Amchem Prods., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 614, 117 S.Ct. 2231, 138 L.Ed.2d 689 (1997); Oshana, 472 F.3d at 513. In this case, Plaintiffs request certification of the proposed class pursuant to Rule 23(b)(3), which applies when "the questions of law or fact common to the members of the class predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy." ...


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