The state of Mississippi is suing Dollar General, saying the discount store tried to hide from consumers the fact that some of its DG brand engine oil was made for pre-1988, and even pre-1930, vehicles.
A warning that the oil could harm newer engines, or inhibit their performance, was moved from the front of the label to the back when Dollar General started selling the oil in 2010, the lawsuit says.
In addition to damaging engines, the lawsuit says DG SAE 30, DG SAE 10-W30 and DG SAE 10W-40 could deactivate emission control equipment, increasing the release of carbon monoxide and other carcinogens.
“Dollar General’s entire line of low-cost DG-brand motor oil was unsuitable for the modern-day vehicles driven by its customers and had no business being sold, except that Dollar General deceived enough customers to make its fraudulent practice profitable,” the lawsuit says.
“Based on the quantity of its DG-brand obsolete motor oil sold compared to the limited number of automobiles for which these oils are appropriate, Dollar General knew or should have known that its customers were deceived by its marketing strategy.”
The motor oil sales have prompted lawsuits in other parts of the country, too, plus one filed by the state of New Mexico.
Dollar General did not immediately respond to the Sun Herald’s inquiry about the lawsuit. The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office believes Dollar General has stopped selling the oil in question, communications director Margaret Ann Morgan said.
Dollar General stores on Pass Road in Biloxi and Gulfport had the newer “SN” oils made for high-mileage vehicles, which can be used in newer models.
Dollar General has filed a notice moving the lawsuit to U.S. District Court in Gulfport from state court in Jackson, where the Attorney General’s Office filed it.
The state’s lawsuit claims Dollar General engaged in deceptive sales practices and created a public nuisance by selling the engine oils made for pre-1988 and pre-1930 vehicles.
It asks a judge to order that the company stop selling the oils in question, pay a fine for each sale, turn over any ill-gotten profits, and pay attorneys’ fees and other court costs.
Dollar General claims in its notice removing the lawsuit to federal court that its labels do include cautions about the oil, so the company is not engaged in deceptive sales practices.
The company says the state’s lawsuit is part of a litigation strategy primarily developed by the Kanner & Whitely law firm of New Orleans, which is representing the state of New Mexico and working on litgation filed by individuals.
The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office also has retained Kanner & Whitely for its case, Dollar General says.