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For Immediate Release
May 11, 2005
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN ANNOUNCES ANTITRUST SETTLEMENT AFFECTING EASTERN SHORE FUEL COMPANIES

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today the settlement of an antitrust case against Alger Oil, Inc. of Rising Sun, Maryland and TriGas an Oil Co. Incorporated, of Federalsburg, Maryland, who were competitors of one another in the sale and distribution of heating oil and other petroleum products and services in several counties on the Eastern Shore. Under the Settlement, each defendant will pay $10,000 to the Fuel Fund of Maryland to help low income Marylanders in Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline, and Dorchester counties pay for heating fuel beginning next winter.

The case against Alger and TriGas arose from a contract in which they agreed to exchange customers and accounts, and to stop competing against each other in the counties of Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline, and Dorchester. Under the antitrust laws, an agreement between two competitors to divide territory and customers, and to stop competing against one another is an unlawful restraint of trade. The defendants have denied any wrongdoing in this case.

The settlement was filed in the Circuit Court for Queen Anne’s County. In addition to making payments to the Fuel Fund, as part of the settlement, the defendants will notify all the customers whose accounts were exchanged, that the customers may choose, without a penalty, to cancel any contract they currently have with either defendant. In addition, for the next three years, the defendants will notify the Office of the Attorney General if they plan to transfer customers or routes to any other competitor.

"In these days of skyrocketing oil prices, it is imperative that consumers have the benefits of competition among heating oil dealers," Attorney General Curran said.

 

   

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