Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

JOHNSON v. AMOCO OIL CO.

April 21, 1992

MARSHALL L. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
AMOCO OIL COMPANY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STANLEY S. HARRIS

 This case arises out of a dispute concerning a petroleum franchise relationship in Washington, D.C. This court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA), 15 U.S.C. § 2805(a), and 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff alleges pendent jurisdiction for his state claims.

 Plaintiff alleges violations of the PMPA and common law breaches of contract. Now before the Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment. For purposes of this motion, the Court accepts plaintiff's version of the facts. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted as to Counts I and II, and the remaining state law claims are dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

 Background

 Plaintiff, Marshall L. Johnson, was an Amoco dealer at 2712 Bladensburg Road, Washington, D.C., from 1981 to February 1990. Johnson operated the Bladensburg Road station under various three-year agreements with defendant Amoco Oil Company (Amoco). The most recent agreement was for the period February 10, 1987, to February 28, 1990. The franchise for this station was cancelled in February 1990. Early that same month, plaintiff entered into a new and separate franchise relationship for an Amoco station located at 4429 Wheeler Road, Oxon Hill, Maryland.

 Plaintiff alleges that, in 1988, defendant told plaintiff that his Bladensburg Road station would be renovated and requested his assistance in obtaining the necessary building permits. According to plaintiff, in reliance upon Amoco's promise to improve his station, he assisted defendant in securing such permits. Amoco shipped new equipment to the station, but did not proceed with the renovations.

 About November 1988, Amoco acquired a service station located at 4925 South Dakota Avenue, N.E., and in close proximity to the plaintiff's Bladensburg Road station. Amoco transformed this newly-acquired station into a modernized service station known in the industry as a "pumper." About August 1989, an independent dealer began operating the pumper under contract with Amoco.

 Plaintiff alleges that Amoco granted the pumper's dealer substantial rent concessions during the first few months of operation. According to plaintiff, such rent concessions allowed the pumper's dealer to Bell gasoline at a cheaper price than plaintiff, resulting in plaintiff's losing considerable business to the pumper. Furthermore, plaintiff claims that defendant knew and intended that plaintiff lose business to the pumper.

 Plaintiff further claims that Amoco presented the opportunity to operate another location as a "take it or leave it" deal -- take one of these locations or have no dealership at all. In December 1989, plaintiff chose the Wheeler Road location, located in what plaintiff characterizes as a crime-ridden area of Prince George's County, over the other Amoco-owned location, which was a closed station in a drug-ridden area of Washington, D.C. Amoco's representatives told plaintiff "not to worry," that the Wheeler Road station would be a better location, that although the Wheeler Road facility had been closed for several months, the previous dealer had enjoyed a good automotive repair business, that the Wheeler Road station's gasoline volume would generate greater profits than the Bladensburg Road station, and that the station would be modernized by way of painting, lighting, and a security booth.

 Amoco told plaintiff to vacate the Bladensburg Road station by early February. On February 7, 1990, plaintiff began operating at Wheeler Road. On February 28, 1990, plaintiff signed a mutual cancellation agreement concerning his Bladensburg Road franchise. Plaintiff concedes that he signed the agreement, but claims that because he had signed several mutual termination agreements during the course of his franchise relationship each time an old agreement expired and a new one commenced, he found nothing "unusual" about being asked to sign this particular agreement.

 Plaintiff alleges that he did not receive a copy of the mutual cancellation agreement as the law requires. However, the last paragraph of the agreement, just above plaintiff's signature, states: "The undersigned Dealer hereby acknowledges that he has received a copy of this document and the Department of Energy 'Summary of Title 1 of the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act' on the date specified under his signature below."

 Between February 7, 1990, and December 1990, plaintiff asserts that he tried in vain to turn his Wheeler Road franchise into a business comparable to that which he had established at his Bladensburg Road location. He claims he was frustrated in his efforts by Amoco's failure to improve his Wheeler Road facility as promised. Additionally, after moving to the Wheeler Road facility, he lost former customers and key employees of his Bladensburg Road dealership, resulting in the loss of significant profits.

 According to plaintiff, in late 1990, he began to realize that the Wheeler Road dealership would never be comparable to his former Bladensburg Road franchise. He suffered a stroke in December of 1990 which prevented him from taking any action until at least ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.