Robbins Geller Gets Valero Class Certified in Consumer Class Action
On October 4, 2017, the Honorable Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California certified a class in Bautista v. Valero Marketing and Supply Company. The consumer fraud class action alleges that Valero Marketing and Supply Company’s (“Valero”) failure to disclose to consumers that their debit cards would be charged the higher credit price than the lower cash price at Valero-branded gas stations offering “split-pricing” resulted in debit card customers being overcharged.
Valero is a refiner and wholesaler of motor fuels that sells branded fuel to distributors and dealers, who in turn sell to the public or re-sell the fuel to Valero-branded station owners who retail to the public. For several years, Valero mandated a practice for its branded-dealers to charge debit cards the higher fuel price offered for credit transactions, and not the lower fuel price offered for cash transactions, although nothing about this practice was disclosed to consumers. Plaintiff Bautista alleges that reasonable consumers consider a debit card to be the same as cash, and that they should be charged the cash price instead of the credit price.
In certifying the class, the court noted that Valero’s “objections miss the mark.” The court further held that Bautista “met th[e] burden” in showing that Valero “produced marketing materials with a material omission that could mislead a significant portion of the general consuming public,” and thus “made an adequate showing that the prerequisites of Rule 23 have been satisfied.”
Bautista v. Valero Marketing and Supply Co., No. 15-cv-05557-RS, Order Granting Motion for Class Certification (N.D. Cal. Oct. 4, 2017).