Dollar General Settles Obsolete Oil Claims with New York

August 27, 2019

New York’s Attorney General announced yesterday a collective $1.2 million settlement with Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar for selling expired products, including obsolete motor oils, and for failing to accept empty bottles under the State’s bottle deposit law. 

From the total, announced settlement, Dollar General will pay $1.1 million in restitution, damages, penalties and costs to New York State for retailing the obsolete oils. The State has set up a process for Dollar General customers to make claims against this settlement.

New York State investigators began undercover visits to Dollar General stores throughout the State in March 2016, and found a number of the stores retailing Dollar General-branded motor oils that are considered “obsolete” under SAE J183, Appendix A and are not suitable for use in vehicles built after 1930 or 1988.  While Dollar General maintains that the motor oil bottles were properly labeled under federal and state weights and measures requirements, the New York Attorney General claimed that the Dollar General-branded motor oil bottles used the same or similar descriptors as “current,” other-branded motor oils and were placed next to these products on store shelves without any on-shelf warning signs about the unsuitability of the obsolete products in today’s engines.

According to the New York Attorney General, Dollar General discontinued the sale of its obsolete oils during the course of the State’s investigation. As part of the settlement, weekly inspections will be conducted in stores for obsolete products.

Dollar General remains subject to class action lawsuits that have been consolidated in federal court in Missouri over its sale of obsolete oils at its stores across the country. Earlier this year, the judge overseeing the multi-district litigation approved class certification for certain plaintiffs’ claims from 16 states. The case is expected to go to trial in the first quarter of next year.

“ILMA continues to advocate for its obsolete motor oil proposal pending before the National Conference on Weights and Measures,” said ILMA CEO Holly Alfano.  “The current, compromise draft would require the applicable SAE J183, Appendix A cautionary statement to be placed on the front label of the containers of non-API licensable products to protect consumers and their vehicles’ engines.”  ILMA hopes that the weights and measures group will adopt the Association’s proposal next summer.