Oral argument: Jan. 19, 2010
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Apr.18, 2008)
CONTRACT, PETROLEUM MARKETING PRACTICES ACT (“PMPA”)
The Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (“PMPA”) is a federal law regulating the relationship between oil companies and independent franchised gas retailers. Here, Shell Oil assigned its rights under a number of existing franchise agreements to a third party. The plaintiffs, Mac’s Shell and a group of gas station owners (“Mac’s”) signed new modified franchise agreements with the third party “under protest,” and brought suit on the theory that signing the lease under protest amounted to a “constructive nonrenewal,” which in turn allowed them to bring a claim for relief under the PMPA. Additionally, Mac’s claims that the assignment of the lease itself was a “constructive termination” of the contract. The First Circuit Court of Appeals held that there was no claim for “constructive nonrenewal” under the PMPA, but upheld a jury verdict for the plaintiffs on their “constructive termination” claim. Both parties were granted certiorari, and their claims were consolidated.