May 11, 2005
CURRAN ANNOUNCES ANTITRUST SETTLEMENT AFFECTING EASTERN
SHORE FUEL COMPANIES
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.