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California Propane Tank Suit Settles for $1.8M

VENTURA, Calif. (CN) - Two major propane grilling tank suppliers will pay $1.8 to settle civil charges that they shortchanged consumers, California prosecutors announced.

California had sued Ferrelgas Partners dba Blue Rhino and Amerigas Propane last month in Alameda County Superior Court.

The complaint alleged that the companies sought to deal with rising fuel costs in 2008 by reducing the volume of propane in their grilling tanks from 17 pounds to 15 pounds, reducing grilling time by up to 90 minutes.

Though the companies allegedly indicated the reduced volume on the tank labels, they sold the tanks from locked metal cages with signs inaccurately describing the tanks as "full" or as still containing 17 pounds of propane.

Both companies faced a raft of similar claims from the consumers themselves in federal and state courts across the country in 2009.

The California Department of Measurement Standards and local weights and measures departments initiated the investigation, according to a release from the Ventura County District Attorney's Office.

As part of the settlement announced Wednesday, Ferrellgas Partners and its affiliate will pay $1 million in civil penalties and costs. AmeriGas Propane and its affiliate will pay $800,000 in civil penalties and costs.

An injunction also requires the companies to post notices on their propane tank enclosures informing consumers of the correct quantity of propane in the tanks.

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