Gasoline has returned to hundreds of BP gas stations around New England, which for a month were forced to shut down their pumps. Now 50 affected Massachusetts gas stations, including stations in Milford, Upton, Franklin and Ashland, are taking legal action.
A lawsuit has been filed by the 50 gas stations against the out-of-business Rhode Island based gas supplier Green Valley Oil and New Jersey based- ARFA Enterprises Inc., which suddenly stopped delivering gas in the month of April. Gas deliveries to the stations, which are owned by BP and Getty Realty, resumed on May 1 after the gas stations set up an arrangement with supplier Lehigh Gas Corp.
Gas also is flowing again at the BP in Bellingham, which is not joining the lawsuit.
“We believe that the contracts were constructively terminated by desisting and eliminating the supply of gas,” said Andrew Daniels, a Boston-based attorney representing the gas stations.
“The stations experienced tremendous hardships in April,” said Matthew Lelacheur, executive director of the New England Service Station and Auto Repair Association. He said Green Valley Oil had trouble delivering full loads of gas to the stations for months prior to the company’s closure. But he said, “The inability to supply fuel was unexpected.”
Ray Geara, president of BP Getty in Milford, said Green Valley would continuously “collect rent for the month then never give you the product.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Boston. Geara said Green Valley did not return a security deposit worth $60,000 to $70,000.
“We are seeking an accounting of Green Valley’s assets,” said Daniels. He said the deposits alone average $50,000 plus interest of 6 percent from the date station operators gave their deposit to the suppliers.
Geara and Sam Younes, president of a BP gas station on East Central Street in Franklin, both claim that over the past two years Green Valley would constantly raise the gas prices around 4 cents higher than the competing rate for other distributors. “We lost all of our business, we lost a lot of customers,” Younes said as a result of not having gas for a month. He said he predicts Green Valley has caused his station to lose $300,000 in assets over the past three years.