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Shell, Motiva Win U.S. High Court Fight With Station Owners

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March 02, 2010, 10:34 AM EST

By Greg Stohr

March 2 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Supreme Court bolstered the ability of oil companies to change their leases with independent service station owners, blocking a Massachusetts lawsuit against Shell Oil Co. and Motiva Enterprises LLC.

The Supreme Court today unanimously said the suit by a group of station owners can’t go forward under the U.S. Petroleum Marketing Practices Act, a 1978 law that gave independent station owners more power in their dealings with oil companies.

The station owners said Shell and Motiva used rent increases to try to end their franchise arrangements so the companies could take over operation of the stations.

The station owners at one point won a $3.3 million jury verdict. A federal appeals court upheld part of the award and both sides appealed to the Supreme Court.

The cases are Mac’s Shell Service v. Shell Oil Products, 08-240, and Shell Oil Products v. Mac’s Shell Service, 08-372.

–Editors: Jim Rubin, Laurie Asseo.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at [email protected].

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jim Kirk at 1-202-654-4315 or [email protected]

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