A Fort Lauderdale station has filed a lawsuit against a new Broward ordinance that requires it and others to post on signs the highest price of gasoline or diesel offered.
Spector Corp. that owns the Causeway BP at 601 SE 17th St., said the ordinance passed in September is being "selectively enforced" and that county workers are investigating stations based on anonymous complaints, according to the lawsuit.
Causeway BP, a small independently owned gas station and convenience store, would be "severely financially injured" if a judge does not grant an emergency motion for an injunction against Broward County enforcing the new law, the lawsuit further alleged.
Laurie Richter Spector, a Weston attorney who filed the lawsuit for the gas station, declined comment Monday. She also said the owner did not want to talk about the case.
He did not know the law was passed until early October when a county investigator told him he had "until tomorrow," to obey the new ordinance, according to the lawsuit. Eight days later, he was given a violation notice and warned to comply by Oct. 18.
An county investigator suggested a temporary solution -- taping over the words "CASH PRICE" that advertised a lower price at the station for customers not using credit cards. The station advertises the cash discounted price for three grades of gasoline, the owner said in the lawsuit.
But the Broward County Commission now requires stations to post the highest price paid at the pump, whether in cash or with a credit or debit card. Commissioner Lois Wexler championed the measure after a consumer complained of misleading ads at a station, and she too was lured by a sign offering low-cost gas, only to pay more with her card.
By late October, Causeway BP was cited when it still had not complied. Last month, according to the lawsuit. the company was fined $250 in an administrative hearing. The station faces the possibility of more fines if a judge does not grant a preliminary injunction, the suit said.
Causeway BP said in its lawsuit that it advertises "CASH PRICE" in large capital letters -- and that customers would not be misled as county commissioners had feared in passing the ordinance.
The station noted it has to pay credit card companies fees that range from 1.5 to 3 percent of the total purchase price.
"High gas prices result in more drivers paying with credit cards, and these fees lower station owners' profits," according to the lawsuit. "To counteract negative fiscal impact, Plaintiff offers a discount of five cents a gallon to customers that pay with cash."
The lawsuit alleged the county is not notifying all stations in Broward County of the new law but rather issuing violation notices "based on anonymous complaints."
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