Attorney: Class action against Dollar General affects lower-income consumers

By Laura Wilcoxen | Jan 28, 2016

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) — An attorney for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging that discount retailer Dollar General engaged in deceptive marketing practices says that the financial damages claimed in the suit primarily affect low-income consumers.

In December, California resident David Sanchez filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Dolgencorp, doing business as Dollar General.

The suit states that the retail chain sells its own discounted brand of motor oils, labeled “DG,” alongside higher-priced standard and premium oils while failing to give sufficient warning to consumers that the DG oils are outdated and unsuitable for the majority of gasoline-powered engines currently in use.

According to the suit, labels on some DG oils state that the product is not intended for use in motor vehicles manufactured after 1988, while labels on other DG oils state the product is unsuitable for engines manufactured after 1930. The suit seeks damages in excess of $5 million.

Allan Kanner of the New Orleans law firm Kanner & Whiteley LLC is among attorneys for the plaintiffs. He said that Dollar General's well-known position in the retail market — that of a discount store primarily serving lower-income customers — makes the allegations particularly noteworthy.

“You're exploiting the economically most vulnerable people in society,” Kanner said. “Those are the people that are coming in and buying this motor oil. There aren't a lot of antique car collectors doing business at Dollar General that I'm aware of.”

Kanner said that some consumers who purchased and used the DG oil had to have their engines completely rebuilt.

He said that there is considerable legal precedent showing that the labeling on the back of the DG oil containers was not sufficient warning to consumers of the product's limitations.

“You can't sell obsolete oil — and that's what they're doing — and they're relying on small print on the back to say that people are on notice," Kanner said.

"I don't think that applies legally. Not when you consider the product placement on the can. There's a lot of case law on that, and we will cite all of the cases.”

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