Victory for Petaluma Butane Gallons Customers!
Update on Litigation Against Petaluma Butane/DeCarlis.
We previously reported that on July 11, 2017 (approaching a year ago) the Marin County Superior Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion to enforce the Settlement Agreement and Final Approval Order that had been entered in our litigation against Petaluma Butane Distributors d/b/a DeCarlis in November, 2010. The Court subsequently issued a written Order specifying what charges the company could and could not continue to bill for, and what payments it must refund. It has, however, been a challenging process to get the company to actually implement the order. Many customers have contacted us, reporting that they are confused about monthly statements which continue to report an overdue “Balance Forward” but also state “Do Not Pay This Amount,” and about ongoing billing issues and delays in removing propane tanks.
After several court hearings and negotiations with the company, we are glad to report that we seem to be back on track. We have agreed with Petaluma Butane on the specific steps they will take to recalculate the Balance Forward amounts, and how refunds will be computed. The process is being overseen by an experienced, independent accountant. No deadline has been set but we expect revised billing statements and refund checks/credits to be issued within the next few months. Thanks for your continuing patience!
Victory for Gallons Customers of Petaluma Butane!
The Marin Superior Court heard argument on our motion to enforce the Settlement Agreement and Final Approval Order as to the gallons customers on July 11, 2017. (The Court previously ruled in our favor as to the metered customers.) We are pleased to report that the Court ruled in Plaintiffs’ favor on almost every issue:
– The Court found that the May/June “balance forward” statements sent by Petaluma Butane to its gallons customers violate the Final Approval Order, including the requirement to provide timely and accurate billing statements that include the time period covered by the statement and the dates of propane delivery being charged for;
– The Court enjoined Petaluma Butane from demanding payment of, or making any effort to collect, charges included in the “balance forward” statements for propane delivered or services rendered prior to May 1, 2012, which is approximately four years before the statements were sent (the statute of limitations);
– The Court ordered that Petaluma Butane must make restitution of (pay back) any amounts already paid by customers on pre-May 1, 2012 charges;
– The Court enjoined Petaluma Butane from collecting any tank rental fees relating to periods prior to the time the “balance forward” statements were sent (a period that in some cases goes back to 2008); and
– The Court awarded our requested attorneys’ fees.
You can read a copy of the full Court Order here.
We will continue to work with Petaluma Butane, as the Court directed, to determine the best way to recalculate customer billing statements and determine the amount of repayments due. Additional information will be provided on customers’ billing statements and posted on the Petaluma Butane website as well as on this site.