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FERRIOLA v. GULF OIL CORP.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


August 13, 1980

Larry J. FERRIOLA
v.
GULF OIL CORPORATION

The opinion of the court was delivered by: LUONGO

SUR PLEADINGS AND PROOF

Plaintiff is a franchisee of Gulf Oil Corporation who has operated a Gulf gasoline and service station in Northeast Philadelphia since 1971. His most recent lease with Gulf expired in August, 1979, after which the parties were unable to agree to terms for renewal. Gulf then gave notice of its intent to terminate the lease, leading Ferriola to file this action under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA), 15 U.S.C. § 2801 et seq. (Pub.L. 95-297, Title I, § 101, June 19, 1978), alleging that Gulf failed to provide proper notice, and was deliberately proposing commercially unreasonable terms in order to drive Ferriola out of business.

 A hearing on Ferriola's request for a preliminary injunction was held on February 1, 1980. The parties negotiated an agreement permitting Ferriola to remain in the property until his request for a preliminary injunction could be consolidated with a trial on the merits under Rule 65(a)(2), F.R.Civ.P. Trial on the merits commenced on April 25, 1980, and ended on April 28. Thereafter, the parties submitted requests for findings of fact and conclusions of law, together with briefs on the legal issues. On pleadings and proof, I make the following

 I. FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiff Larry J. Ferriola is an individual operating a Gulf Service Station at 9999 Bustleton Avenue at Red Lion Road, Philadelphia.

 2. Defendant Gulf Oil Corporation is a Pennsylvania corporation engaged in the refining, distribution, and marketing of petroleum products.

 3. Ferriola has operated his station since 1971 under leases and related franchise agreements with Gulf.

 4. Gulf leases the ground on which Ferriola's station is located from Posel Enterprises. Gulf erected the service station on one portion of the ground, and sublet the remainder for use as a miniature golf course.

 5. The most recent lease between the parties was for a one-year term from August 6, 1977, to August 5, 1978. This lease was renewed for an additional one-year period expiring August 5, 1979.

 6. Prior to the expiration of the lease, Gulf failed to negotiate a renewal due to personnel changes in Gulf's district management.

 7. In a letter dated August 31, 1979, Gulf extended Ferriola's lease to October 5, 1979, in order to give the parties time to negotiate a renewal.

 8. Ferriola's rent under the lease expiring on August 5, 1979, was $ 500 per month.

 9. On September 4, 1979, Gulf proposed to Ferriola a new three-year lease, effective August 6, at the following rents: First year $ 1,060 per month Second year 1,500 per month Third year 1,800 per month

19800813

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