District of Columbia v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp.

Notice: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the Atlantic and Maryland Reporters. Users are requested to notify the Clerk of the Court of any formal errors so that corrections may be made before the bound volumes go to press. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS No. 14-CV-633 11/02/2017 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, APPELLANT, V. EXXONMOBIL OIL CORPORATION, et al., APPELLEES. Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CAB-5874-13) (Hon. Craig Iscoe, Trial Judge) (Argued November 9, 2016 Decided November 2, 2017) Catherine A. Jackson, Assistant Attorney General, with whom Karl A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy Solicitor General, Donna M. Murasky, Senior Assistant Attorney General, and Bennett Rushkoff, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, were on the brief, for appellant. Robert M. Loeb for appellee ExxonMobil Oil Corporation. Ross C. Paolino, and Christina G. Sarchio, were on the brief, for appellee. Alphonse M. Alfano for appellees Anacostia Realty, LLC, Springfield Petroleum Realty, LLC, and Capitol Petroleum Group, LLC. William L. Taylor and Alan J. Thiemann were on the brief for Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association, Inc., amicus curiae, in support of appellees. Before THOMPSON and EASTERLY, Associate Judges, and REID, Senior Judge. Opinion for the court by Associate Judge THOMPSON. 2 Dissenting opinion by Associate Judge EASTERLY at page 51. THOMPSON, Associate Judge: This action arose when appellant District of Columbia (―the District‖), asserting that it was acting ―in its parens patriae capacity and through its Attorney General,‖ brought suit against defendant/appellee ExxonMobil Oil Corp. (―Exxon‖) and defendants/appellees Anacostia Realty, LLC (―Anacostia‖) and Springfield Petroleum Realty, LLC (―Springfield‖) (affiliated entities sometimes hereafter referred to together as the ―Distributors‖), and Capitol Petroleum Group, LLC (―CPG‖)1 for declaratory and injunctive relief for claimed violations of D.C. Code § 36-303.01 (a)(6) and (11) (2012 Repl.), contained in Subchapter III of a statute known as the ―Retail Service Station Act‖ (―RSSA‖). The Superior Court granted defendants‘/appellees‘ motions to dismiss the complaint, agreeing with the defendants that the District had not ―established standing through common law parens patriae authority‖ and ―does not have express or implied statutory authority‖ to maintain this action. The District argues that the trial court erred in dismissing the complaint. We agree and therefore reverse and remand for further proceedings. 1 Appellees describe CPG as ―a service company that does not own or control any service stations and is not engaged in the sale of motor fuels in the District or elsewhere.‖ 3 I. Background A. The Allegations of the Complaint The complaint alleges that until 2009, Exxon owned a number of retail gasoline service stations located in the District, which it leased to independent retail dealers that operated the stations under franchise agreements. Under the franchise agreements, Exxon had the exclusive right to supply Exxon-branded gasoline to the retail service stations. Although refiner Exxon also had gasoline distribution agreements with wholesale gasoline distributors in the area, it prohibited them from supplying Exxon-branded gasoline to the ...

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