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February 1, 2017

Volume 17 Issue 52

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Smitty’s Settles California Case

In late December, California’s Department of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Measurement Standards disclosed that Smitty’s Supply Inc. paid $751,555 to settle a civil complaint alleging that it mislabeled engine oils.

The company’s Custom Plus Motor Oil was tested by the Division of Measurement Standards as part of a random testing program in 2012, and was found to be of a lower winter grade than advertised. A subsequent investigation found that many of Smitty’s products offered in Orange County, California, and the surrounding area were also of a different grade than advertised or were mislabeled.

The Orange County brought up accusations against Smitty’s on “violations for selling or offering for sale, petroleum or automotive products of a different grade than represented on the label and adulterated or mislabel product that [did] not meet the latest automotive manufacturer’s recommended requirements as indicated on the label,” according to the Division of Measurement Standard’s final judgment.

Smitty’s agreed to pay $555,000 in civil penalties to the county, $151,155 for the cost of the investigation and $45,000 to the Department of Measurement standards to be used for the purchase of a new truck. The final judgement says the truck will be used by the “Division of Measurement Standards Anaheim Field Office to facilitate field investigations of petroleum and/or automotive product compliance.”

Smitty’s also agreed to a permanent injunction, which requires the company to periodically update the Division of Measurement Standards, prohibits it from misrepresenting its products and requires Smitty’s to implement a quality assurance testing program.

The quality assurance program, which must be maintained in writing, requires Smitty’s to place a date and batch number on all products. Through this, every product “can be tracked via a computer program so that the location and quantity of all Smitty’s products for sale or distribution in California can be easily traced,” says the final judgement. Additional testing equipment will be added as a voluntary action, not required by the settlement.

California’s Division of Measurement standards noted Smitty’s extensive cooperation throughout the process. 

Brad Berner, a director at Smitty’s, told Lube Report, “Many of the violations consisted of incorrect font sizes on the labels, which were immediately corrected. We want to stress that there were absolutely no engine malfunctions which resulted from the allegations, and there was absolutely no harm to any consumer.”

Louisiana-based Smitty’s Supply Inc. manufactures and distributes lubricant products.