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Sonoma County, others settle lawsuit over propane tanks for $1.8 million

If it seems like you had to refill the propane tank on your barbecue grill sooner, you probably did.

Blue Rhino and AmeriGas reduced the amount of propane in their tanks in 2008 from 17 pounds to 15 pounds and updated labels on the tanks to reflect the change.

But distributors didn't fix the signs on metal cages, where consumers exchanged their empty tanks for full ones. The signs continued to refer to the tanks as full or still containing 17 pounds.

As a result, consumers paid the same price for fuel but grilling time was reduced by up to 1-1/2 hours.

Prosecutors in Sonoma County and six other jurisdictions sued in Alameda County Superior Court, alleging the distributors violated California's consumer protection and false advertising laws. This week, they settled the case for $1.8 million.

The agreement capped an investigation initiated by the state Department of Measurement Standards and local weights and measurements departments. The companies admitted no wrongdoing.


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