Justia Energy, Oil & Gas Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Commercial Law
Santiago-Sepulveda v. Esso Std. Oil Co., Inc.
Franchisees, operating gas stations in Puerto Rico, alleged violations of the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA), 15 U.S.C. 2801, based on the Esso's plan to leave the market and terminate their contracts. Esso sold its assets to Total and most of the franchisees eventually contracted with Total. The district court found some of the terms of the Total franchise contract invalid, but severable, and denied injunctive relief and damages against Esso. The First Circuit affirmed, first holding that PMPA does not require that terms offered by a substitute franchisor be identical for each franchisee and that there was no evidence that Total acted other than in good faith or intended that its offers would be rejected. That Total's franchise contract, consisting of more than 100 pages, contained five provisions found partially invalid under state law, did not render it "per se" in violation of PMPA.