Kentucky’s attorney general says the state is continuing its case against Marathon in a lawsuit that’s over a decade old.
WDRB.com reports that the litigation was first filed by former Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo in 2007. Brought against Marathon Petroleum, the suit accuses the nationwide distributor of illegally increasing the price of gasoline in Kentucky in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Furthermore, Stumbo said Marathon repeated the same trick again In 2011, after the state was beset by widespread flooding.
According to WDRB, current A.G. Andy Beshear says the case is finally moving forward.
“It is time to get this in front of a Kentucky jury,” Beshear said. “It is time to actually get this thing resolved.”
Beshear said in an interview that his office was finally able to arrange and complete an interview with Marathon CEO Gary Heminger at the end of November. However, Beshear isn’t yet able to reveal any details about what, if anything, he learned.
Nevertheless, the attorney general’s indicated his findings could be of some help to the state’s case.
“I believe that it will significantly help us moving into trial,” Beshear said.
And now, says WDRB, the trial’s scheduled to begin some time in June.
“We will be able to prove that Marathon intentionally gouged Kentuckians, charged us more, put their profits over our people,” Beshear said.
An older article penned by WDRB notes that Kentucky is one of several states with laws specifically outlawing arbitrary increases in gasoline prices following emergencies. And the same website says that Marathon’s leadership attempted to requisition a list of jurisdictions wherein they could pump up petrol prices, even as Hurricane Katrina was poised to make landfall along the Gulf Coast.
Even still, the company gradually began shifting its per-gallon prices upward. Over the course of three days, Marathon—which is Kentucky’s principle petroleum supplier—raised the price of regular unleaded from an average of $1.94 per gallon to $2.59.
“How about going public quickly that we are not trying to profit from the problems [and] will donate 10 or 20 or whatever to the relief efforts,” one Marathon executive suggested in an email addressed to Heminger.
Marathon has reportedly refused to comment, citing pending litigation.
However, WDRB notes that Beshear and his suit aren’t without internal opposition. Some Republicans have criticized the A.G. for purportedly filing frivolous lawsuits to support a bid for the state’s governorship.
“Andy Beshear has spent his scandal-ridden term as Attorney General weaponizing the office to further his own political ambitions,” Kentucky Republican Party spokesperson Tres Watson said in a statement.
Beshear’s dismissed right-wing criticism, saying his lawsuits against Marathon and the state’s Republican governor have all been filed with the public’s best interest in mind.