Tractor Fluid Settlement Agreed Upon


Tractor Fluid Settlement Agreed Upon

A Federal District Court judge in Missouri granted preliminary approval to a class action settlement providing reimbursement to customers who purchased certain tractor hydraulic fluids labeled as 303 products and marketed by Citgo and another company.

The settlement would provide more than $18.8 million to plaintiffs.

Filed in the District Court for the Western District of Missouri in November 2018, the suit alleged that several brands of tractor hydraulic and transmission fluids failed to meet original equipment manufacturer specifications printed on their label. The products cited in the class action suit included MileMaster 303 tractor hydraulic fluid, H-K 303 tractor transmission hydraulic fluid and SuperTech 303 tractor hydraulic oil – all manufactured by Citgo – along with Orscheln Premium 303 tractor hydraulic & transmission fluid. The plaintiffs alleged negligence, unjust enrichment, breach of warranty, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, and consumer protection violations. The suit covers products purchased from May 2013 up to the present.

The settlement stated that the defendants denied any wrongdoing and that they argued the labels were “truthful and adequate,” and complied with state and federal law. As part of the settlement, the court did not rule in favor of either party. Citgo did not respond to a request for comment from Lube Report.

The defendants will pay a little over $18.8 million to members of the class action lawsuit for reimbursement of products purchased and repairs of parts and specific equipment damage resulting from use of the products in question.

The settlement was reached on Feb. 3 of this year. The court will hold a hearing on Oct. 13 to determine whether to approve the settlement.

Fluids labeled as 303 THF have come under scrutiny the past few years. A federal district court in Missouri approved a class action settlement in April last year. The plaintiffs claimed the defendants misled customers by supplying fluid labeled as 303 THF even though 303 tractor hydraulic fluid was obsolete, and no known 303 specification was available to measure the fluid against.

After multiple tests of the fluids, the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Weights, Measures and Consumer Protection Division ordered Missouri retailers in late 2017 to immediately stop selling John Deere 303 tractor hydraulic fluids after determining the specification fails to meet the performance needs of modern equipment.

The U.S. National Conference on Weights and Measures amendment rule last year requiring tractor hydraulic fluids sold in the United States that do not meet current specifications be clearly labeled as obsolete and accompanied by an explanatory warning on their package fronts.

ASTM International also announced last year that it would develop a minimum performance standard for tractor hydraulic fluids, though no timeline for the development has been announced.

John Deere developed JD303 nearly 60 years ago and replaced it in 1974 with J14B, which was replaced in 1978 with J20A. John Deere has declared all of those specifications obsolete and has two current specs – JDM-2020C and J20D – along with its genuine Hy-Gard fluid. Some lubricant marketers had continued marketing hydraulic tractor fluids labeled as meeting the 303 standard, but critics have said they do not meet the lubrication requirements of modern tractors and can cause problems such as damage to the spiral gear in the final drive and excessive wear in the planetaries.

Photo: Franz W./Pixabay

A John Deere harvester. A settlement was reached in a Missouri court in February regarding 303 tractor hydraulic fluid.