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Judge lets ethanol suit move forward

A District Court judge in southern Florida recently denied a request to dismiss a lawsuit regarding the damage that gasoline blended with ethanol does to boat engines and fuel tanks.

The suit was filed last August by The Kopelowitz Ostrow law firm on behalf of clients Erick Kelesceny, John Egizi and Todd Jessup, all Florida residents. Defendants in the case are Exxon, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, BP and Shell.

The suit alleges that the oil companies failed to warn boat owners that ethanol-blended gasoline may destroy fiberglass tanks and tends to absorb water and phase separate, which could cause damage to any boat, regardless of its fuel tank material.

The next step following this week’s ruling is pursuing certification to become a class-action lawsuit, according to a report in the Naples News.

If successful, the oil companies will be forced to place a warning label on pumps at all Florida gas stations. The plaintiffs also seek compensation for Florida boat owners whose boats have been damaged by the fuel.

"Denial of the motion is a significant step toward redressing the wrong perpetrated on Florida's boating population," said TKO managing partner Jeffrey Ostrow, in a statement. "Florida is the boating capital of the world, and it is reprehensible for oil companies to enjoy significant profits while knowingly paralyzing Florida's boaters."

Click here for a release about the lawsuit.

Click here for the report in the Naples Daily News.

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