Joe Alioto to take on Big Oil in court

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By G.W. Schulz

Just received early word that in-your-face antitrust lawyer and local swell Joe Alioto will be filing a gargantuan class-action suit tomorrow in federal court against some of the largest players in the global oil racket accusing them of fixing gasoline prices and destroying documents that showed evidence of the collusion.

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The defendants will include Shell Oil Company, Chevron Corporation and Saudi Refining, Inc. and the suit alleges that they artificially increased the price of gasoline for more than 20 gas stations throughout California, whose owners are acting as the plaintiffs, by 50 to 60 percent. "Plaintiffs paid significantly higher wholesale prices for branded gasoline when the price of crude oil fell," a press announcement reads.

The suit will state that the defendants formed two companies in a joint venture in 1998, Equilon and Motiva, the former a partnership between Shell and Saudi Refining and the latter made up of Shell and Texaco. Both refine and distribute wholesale gasoline and other fuels.

Alioto represented local businessman and former political consultant Clint Reilly in his antitrust suit against MediaNews Group and the Hearst Corp. after the two announced a massive investment scheme that enabled MediaNews to last year buy up several Bay Area daily newspapers with $300 million from Hearst. The suit was settled earlier this year with mixed reviews.

The latest Big Oil suit will officially be announced tomorrow on the federal courthouse steps in San Francisco at 2 p.m., 450 Golden Gate Ave.

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