— A Dollar General motor oil class-action lawsuit will continue in a Missouri courtroom as the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled it is a good location for a judge to hear arguments that say the motor oil is dangerous to modern cars.
At least 18 class-action lawsuits are consolidated under one courthouse roof, all that allege Dollar General uses deceptive and misleading tactics to sell its own brand of motor oils labeled "DG Auto" that are obsolete and harmful to today's vehicles.
According to the plaintiffs, the oil is positioned next to more expensive motors oils manufactured by other companies, such as PEAK, Pennzoil, and Castrol, but Dollar General fails to tell shoppers that buying the cheaper oil is an alleged mistake.
Many Dollar General stores are located where there are many low-income and fixed-income households, so the cheaper oils allegedly look like good deals compared to the more expensive brands.
The DG Auto line includes three types of motor oils: DG Auto SAE 10W-30, DG Auto SAE 10W-40 and DG Auto SAE 30 motor oils that allegedly fail to protect modern-day engines, and in some cases will damage those engines.
The small print located on the back of the bottles says the DG Auto SAE 10W-30 and DG Auto SAE 10W-40 motor oils are “not suitable for use in most gasoline powered automotive engines built after 1988” and “may not provide adequate protection against the build-up of engine sludge.”
On the back of the DG Auto SAE 30 motor oil container is small print that says the motor oil is:
“not suitable for use in most gasoline powered automotive engines built after 1930,” and that its “use in modern engines may cause unsatisfactory engine performance or equipment harm.”
The class-action lawsuit says it's obvious Dollar General is trying to conceal the true nature of the oil by placing the print in small letters on the back labels. In addition, Dollar General allegedly further conceals the facts about the obsolete oil by placing the small print below a message that allegedly presents a misleading impression of the oil.
For the DG SAE 10W-30 and DG SAE 10W-40 products, that message reads:
“SAE 10W-30 motor oil is an all-season, multiviscosity, heavy duty detergent motor oil recommended for gasoline engines in older model cars and trucks. This oil provides oxidation stability, anti-wear performance, and protection against deposits, rust and corrosion.”
For DG Auto SAE 30 motor oil, the message reads:
“DG Quality SAE 30 is a non-detergent motor oil designed for use in older engines where consumption may be high and economical lubricants are preferred.”
The plaintiffs say the DG oils are a waste of money because few consumers drive cars for which the oils are safe, considering the oils are not safe for any vehicles manufactured within the past 27 years. And in the case of the SAE 30 oil, that isn't safe for any vehicle built in the past 85 years.
According to the multidistrict litigation, Dollar General makes a hefty profit by deceiving a great number of customers into believing the motor oils can safely be used in vehicles manufactured in the past 27 years.
Dollar General argues the lawsuits should be obsolete because the motor oils come with warranties. In addition, the company says consumers didn't read about the products before buying them because the details are there for all to see. Dollar General also says the plaintiffs don't mention how much they were overcharged for the oils.
Dollar General asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the word "Caution" is printed on every bottle, but the judge ruled the company must face charges of violating marketing and consumer protection laws. The judge also said many objections raised by the company can come into play later, but it's too early at this stage to rule on the arguments.
The Dollar General motor oil class-action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Wood et. al., v. Dollar General Corporation, et, al.
In addition to the consolidated lawsuit in Missouri, a similar lawsuit was filed in June 2017 by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. That lawsuit claims Dollar General sold "obsolete" motor oils in New Mexico stores from 2010 to February 2017.