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January 20, 2016

Volume 17 Issue 52

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Dollar General Sued For 'Obsolete' Oils

A California resident filed a class action lawsuit against the owner of Dollar General discount stores, alleging that its house brand motor oils are obsolete and harmful to vehicles.

David Sanchez filed the complaint Dec. 17 on behalf of any customers whose vehicles suffered damage due to use of motor oils purchased from the chain, which is owned by Tennessee-based Dolgencorp LLC. The complaint stated that Dollar General allegedly sold its DG Auto brand motor oils “by using deceptive and misleading marketing tactics,” which include placing them next to recognized brands of motor oil and inadequately informing customers of potential risks to their engines. The suit was filed in Los Angeles in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Dollar General sells SAE 10W-30 and SAE 10W-40 motor oils, both categorized as API SF, and SAE-30 motor oil, which falls into the SA category. The front label says that the motor oil lubricates and protects engines, but the small print in the back states otherwise.

The DG Auto SAE 10W-30 and SAE 10W-40 labels indicate that both types of motor oil are not suitable for most gasoline engines built after 1988, while the SAE 30 is unsuitable for most gasoline engines built after 1930.

“Dollar General further conceals this language by placing it below a misleading and contradictory message regarding the product,” reads the court document. Although the labels for both types of motor oil state their benefits on older engines, the complaint claimed that “older” is an unspecified term “that does not inform a reasonable consumer that these motor oils are not safe for cars manufactured within the past 27 years, or in the case of Dollar General’s DG SAE 30, the past 85 years.”

“It is unfair, unlawful, deceptive and fraudulent for Dollar General to distribute, market, and sell an entire line of motor oil that is unfit for, and presents concrete dangers to, the automobiles driven by the vast majority of its customers,” read the complaint, claiming that the vehicles of many members involved in the lawsuit have already sustained damage directly linked to usage of the motor oils.

Allan Kanner, an attorney representing Sanchez, said Dolgencorp should respond or file a motion to dismiss within 60 days. “The court ultimately decides the pace at which a case moves, but we are ready, willing and able to push for an early determination of class action status and an early trial date,” said Kanner, of the firm Kanner & Whiteley. “A swift resolution is good for consumers and, frankly, competitors who do not engage in improper marketing,” he added.

Representatives for Dolgencorp declined to comment.

The class action complaint against Dollar General alleges that there are six violations of California civil and business codes, as well as two breaches of implied warranties. The plaintiff and other members are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, restitution and disgorgement, declaratory and injunctive relief, interests, attorney fees and costs of the suit, all of which exceed $5 million.