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Product Liability Law

Calif. Boater and Attorney Sues Over Ethanol-Laced Fuel

Posted Apr 15, 2008 4:30 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Until it did $35,000 worth of damage to his boat, Lawrence Turner says, he had no idea that the ethanol-laced fuel sold at California marinas could erode fiberglass fuel tanks. And, he suspects, he's not the only unwary boat owner who suffered such harm.

So the 50-year-old attorney, who is also an accountant and diet company president, is seeking redress. He filed suit in federal court last week against Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and eight other gasoline producers and distributors, and hopes to pursue the case as a class action. His complaint contends that the companies should have warned boaters of the harmful effect of using ethanol-laced fuel in their boats, reports the Los Angeles Times.

A Chevron spokesman declined to comment, but Shell Oil Co. President John Hofmeister contends his company was not at fault. "There were years of advance notification that this change was coming," and ethanol's adverse effect on fiberglass is no secret, he says. "Any boat owner or any boat seller or any boat maintenance shop that didn't know about this impending change and the potential consequences simply wasn't listening or reading."

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