Lawfuel – The Law Newswire – TALLAHASSEE, FL – As Floridians and citiz…

Lawfuel – The Law Newswire – TALLAHASSEE, FL – As Floridians and citizens across the country are faced with dramatically increasing prices at the gas pump, Attorney General Bill McCollum today filed a lawsuit against a Panhandle company and its president alleging charges of gasoline price fixing. Ryan E. Phillips and his company, Fill-Ups Food Stores III, Inc., are named as defendants in the second lawsuit the Attorney General’s Office has filed against Phillips and his company for similar allegations within the past year. The complaint, filed today in the First Judicial Circuit, cites “immoral, oppressive, and unscrupulous” actions resulting in “substantial injury to Florida

“Price fixing is a serious offense. It destroys the competitive
nature of business, undermines the free market of the economy, all the
while placing the burden on the back of the consumer,” said Attorney
General McCollum. “Considering the burden Floridians are feeling at gas
pumps across the state, the notion that one individual may be
systematically attempting to illegally profit at their expense is

Phillips owns and/or operates approximately 60 retail gasoline
outlets throughout Northwest Florida. The lawsuit alleges Phillips demanded another retail owner fix the price of gasoline at her store to match the prices Phillips had set for his nearby store. The store owner reported that she was concerned for her physical safety if she did not comply with Phillips’s demands. The store owner complied with Phillips’ threat, raising her prices by three cents per gallon.

Investigators believe Phillips continued to contact the woman once a
week, directing her when to continue raising prices to match those at his
store. This conduct allegedly continued for three months until the woman’s lease was cancelled in April 2007, after which Phillips took over

The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges that Phillips’ conduct
violated the Florida Antitrust Act as well as the Florida Deceptive and
Unfair Trade Practices Act and resulted in unnecessarily high gasoline
prices paid by Florida residents. Phillips faces a $100,000 penalty for
each violation of the Florida Antitrust Act. Phillips’ company, Fill-Ups
Food Stores III, Inc., faces a $1 million penalty for each such violation. Additionally, under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, both Phillips and his company face a $10,000 penalty for every violation.

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