CROWN POINT | A local lawyer sued BP on Monday in Lake Superior Court, claiming he is one of many who has suffered car repairs from its substandard gasoline and annoyance from its consumer hotline.
Walter Alvarez, of Crown Point, filed a damage claim in County Division Judge Julie Cantrell's court. He alleges in an affidavit his newer-model car became inoperable recently after buying gas at a Meijer service station in Highland. He said his car needed repairs that have cost him $554.41.
BP recently acknowledged it unknowingly shipped more than 2 million gallons of gasoline contaminated with higher-than-normal levels of polymeric residue from its Whiting Refinery to gas stations in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. The company said it has set up a hotline and procedures for consumers to reimburse them for car repairs.
Alvarez said he called BP to complain but his inquires "were totally mishandled, misrepresented, put on hold forever and basically given the 'run around.'"
"I thought filing a lawsuit will get BP to do something about their admitted liability instead of jibber-jabbing with a hotline that concludes absolutely nothing. To me, the easiest solution is for BP to set up a makeshift office right here in Northwest Indiana and allow those people who have been affected to meet with them personally and resolve their problems immediately," Alvarez said.
Scott Dean, a spokesman for the company, said Monday he cannot comment on pending litigation, but said BP already has processed 6,500 claims over the incident.
"We are honoring our commitment to deal with every customer who has a claim and provide good quality gasoline. We rarely have problems, but when we do we take it seriously," Dean said.
He said BP now has 159 operators and 140 claims adjusters who were added over the weekend. "We are now able to answer calls in 10 seconds. Our response time has improved dramatically," Dean said.