The Paynter Law Firm PLLC currently represents consumers seeking compensation from two propane tank manufacturers: Blue Rhino and AmeriGas. The complaint alleges that these manufacturers conspired to reduce the fill levels of their tanks and thereby cheated consumers out of hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds of propane. Consumers effectively paid more than they otherwise would have for propane contained in the propane exchange tanks.
In the spring of 2008, Blue Rhino decided to take advantage of a spike in propane prices and increase its margin by reducing the amount of propane in the tanks from 17 pounds to 15 pounds without reducing the wholesale price. Blue Rhino subsequently and illegally informed its direct competitor AmeriGas that it intended to implement a fill reduction. AmeriGas in turn decided to reduce the amount of propane in its exchange tanks from 17 pounds to 15 pounds, also without a corresponding price decrease.
In summer 2008, Blue Rhino and AmeriGas began to implement the fill reductions but were met with stiff resistance from Walmart. Walmart refused to accept the fill reduction, pointing out that it was effectively a price increase. One of Blue Rhino's customers, Lowe's, agreed to accept the fill reduction only if all of Blue Rhino's other customers would also accept the fill reduction. Blue Rhino and AmeriGas colluded and pushed Walmart to accept the fill reduction.
Individual consumers were not informed of the fill reduction, nor did Blue Rhino or AmeriGas reduce the size of their propane exchange tanks. In fact, after the reduction, signs, banners, and other advertising materials provided to retailers continued to state that customers would receive a "full" tank even though customers actually received only partially filled tanks.
Additionally, prior to the filing of this suit, several other actions were filed against Blue Rhino and AmeriGas related to the fill reductions. Those actions were settled out of court prior to a trial, yet Blue Rhino and AmeriGas continued to conspire and maintain the propane tank fill reductions.