GREEN BAY, Wis. (CN) – A class of Wisconsin consumers claims in a federal lawsuit that Dollar General sells motor oil that can cause engine damage and is not suitable for cars made after 1988.
“Dollar General’s entire line of DG Auto Obsolete Motor Oil Products is unsuitable for the modern-day vehicles driven by its customers, except that it is successfully deceiving a sufficient number of customers to make this fraudulent practice profitable and therefore worthwhile,” according to the complaint filed Monday in Green Bay federal court.
Lead plaintiff and South Milwaukee resident Seit Alla alleges that Dolgencorp LLC, owner of Dollar General, made DG motor oil labels that are misleading to the average consumer because given their product placement and front label, they do not suggest the consumer read the fine print on the back.
According to the lawsuit, the small print on the back of DG Auto SAE 10W-30 and 10W-40 oils states that the products are “not suitable for use in most gasoline powered automotive engines built after 1988” and “may not provide adequate protection against build-up of engine sludge.”
Another label, for DG Auto SAE 30 motor oil, allegedly reads: “not suitable for use in most gasoline powered automotive engines built after 1930” and “use in modern engines may cause unsatisfactory engine performance or equipment harm.”
Motor oil is used to lubricate a car’s engine and reduce wear and tear on its moving parts. Dollar General began selling its line of company-branded motor oil in 2010, the complaint states.
At least three of the DG motor oils offered, although manufactured to the American Petroleum Institute specifications, are unsafe for use in any car manufactured within the last 27 years, according to the complaint.
Alla says he put six quarts of DG Auto SAE 10W-30 motor oil in his 1996 Land Rover Range Rover just about every 3,000 miles, beginning in 2014.
He seeks to represent a class of Wisconsin residents who bought the DG motor oil products from May 2011 to the present.
“Dollar General’s placement of its DG Auto Obsolete Motor Oil Products on the same shelves and in similar quantities as the other motor oils tells the typical Dollar General shopper that the products are the same, and conceals the fact that its DG Auto Obsolete Motor Oil Products have an extremely obscure and limited use, that the products are obsolete products, and that these motor oils are likely to cause damage to the engines of most of Dollar General’s customers’ cars,” the lawsuit states.
The chain is a discount retailer that offers everyday household items and other merchandise. There are over 120 Dollar General stores in Wisconsin.
Dolgencorp LLC did not immediately respond to an email request for comment sent Tuesday.
The proposed class seeks compensatory and punitive damages, restitution and a court order declaring that Dollar General is engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices and must provide accurate representations of the quality of the motor oil it sells.
Alla is represented by John Blythin of Ademi & O’Reilly in Cudahy, Wis.