Wisconsin Gas Stations Suing Rival Over Cheap Gas Prices

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Mark Hirsch/Getty Images)

Two rival gas stations are suing rival Woodman’s Food Market for $160,000 over cheap gas prices with a jury trial set for October.

The gas stations, a Shell station on Main Street and a BP on Lincoln Avenue, came up with the amount based on the number of days the gas station illegally outpriced them.

What We Know

  • According to AAA, Sunday’s average price of a gallon of gas is $3.89 in Waukesha County.
  • State’s Unfair Sales Act prohibits stores from selling things below cost
  • Woodman’s says they can sell gas cheap because a Costco 6.5 miles away does it

Wisconsin Gas Stations In Fierce Competition Over Gas Prices

According to the lawsuit, owners of those stations say they are entitled to $2,000 in damages multiplied by each day of continued violation of the Unfair Sales Act.

Woodman’s Food Market has 19 stores in Wisconsin and Illinois. The food store averages about 230,000 square feet per location. The Janesville-based company is reportedly worth $1 billion.

According to AAA, Sunday’s average price of a gallon of gas is $3.89 in Waukesha County. The city is a short 20-minute drive west of downtown Milwaukee.

Statewide, the price is higher at $3.92. Currently, 14 counties on the Canadian border sell gas at $4 or more. Those counties have the highest gas prices in the state.

On Sunday afternoon, Google said Woodman’s sold gas for $3.60 a gallon. The Shell station directly across the street from the food market advertised gas at $3.82 per gallon. BP sold its cheapest gas for $3.90 per gallon.

TV station WISN got a look at more than 200 pages of court documents in the case.

The two gas stations say Woodman’s violated the state’s Unfair Sales Act. That law keeps companies from selling goods below cost.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the March 2021 lawsuit said Woodman’s failed to comply with that Unfair Sales Act for at least 40 of the past 180 days since Sept. 27, 2020.

Woodman’s Disputes Gas Station’s Lawsuit

On the other hand, Woodman’s officials countered that argument. The store said it could sell below cost to keep up with Costco. 

That national chain’s Pewaukee store is 6.5 miles from Woodman’s. According to the gas pricing app Gas Buddy, Costco’s cheapest gas price was $3.49 per gallon on Sunday afternoon.

Woodman’s said it is “immune” from any lawsuit because of that Costco.

On Friday, the TV station saw lines of cars waiting to fuel up at Woodman’s Food Market. The other two gas stations had few to no customers at that time.

When interviewed, the Woodman’s customers said they purchased gas there because of the lowest gas prices.

The Shell and BP gas stations’ attorney did not respond to a request for comments on Friday.

Meanwhile, Woodman’s legal team said the supermarket chain did nothing wrong.

“Woodman’s is in full compliance with its Waukesha store gas pricing and believes this lawsuit is without merit,” the food market chain said.

The newspaper said a hearing would take place on June 27, with the jury trial scheduled for Oct. 18-20.