capitalizing on opportunities

Lerch Early attorneys represent individuals and businesses on transactional and litigation matters involving the retail petroleum industry.

Among other things, we assist “downstream” marketers, station owners and operators on issues arising under the federal Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (“PMPA”), state franchise and distribution statutes (such as the Maryland Gasohol and Gasoline Products Marketing Act, the DC Retail Service Station Act and the Virginia Petroleum Products  Franchise Act), federal and state statutes involving pricing (including Section 2-305 of the Uniform Commercial Code and the Robinson-Patman Act), and other federal, state and local statutes and regulations impacting the retail motor fuel industry.

In the transactional area, our attorneys have assisted dealers and marketers in connection with their acquisition, sale, financing, and leasing of station properties and businesses whether from major oil companies, regional distributors, or other station dealers.  For our distributor clients, we have assisted in numerous acquisitions of single and multi-site portfolios of station properties and supply arrangements and in the leasing and development of station sites into non-petroleum uses.  For our dealer clients, our attorneys also review, provide advice, and negotiate changes to motor fuel supply agreements, convenience store franchise agreements, and real property leases prior to initial entry, during their term or upon renewal.

Through negotiation and our in-depth understanding of the industry, we help our clients avoid costly and expensive litigation when possible. When litigation is unavoidable, we aggressively pursue and defend claims in state and federal courts.  We have litigated cases involving retail petroleum marketing franchises in federal and states courts throughout the Mid-Atlantic United States, including in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.  The types of issues in cases we have litigated include franchise terminations and nonrenewals, unfair or discriminatory pricing claims, contractual and statutory rights of first refusal and bona fide offers, restrictive deed covenants, and just compensation related to governmental takings of station properties.