Warren Socked $650,000 for Mix-ups


Warren Unilube will pay $650,000 to settle an unfair business practices case that accused the company of selling mislabeled motor oil, gear oil and other products in California.

The Oct. 27 civil settlement requires Warren to institute a testing program to ensure the quality and labeling of its products comply with California laws.

The Orange County, Calif., district attorney, with assistance from the California Division of Measurement Standards, had filed a civil lawsuit to ban Warren Unilube from engaging in unfair business practices and false and misleading advertising. They charged Warren Unilube with committing unfair business practices in California, including in Orange County. The case is directed only at sales in California.

The settlement includes $500,000 to Orange County, and $150,000 to the Division of Measurement Standards. During a random product testing program in 2009, the division determined that samples of Coastal gear oil were a different grade than what was represented on the bottle label.

During a subsequent investigation into other Warren Unilube products, DMS also found a similar violation in Auto-Zone motor oil, the Orange County district attorneys office stated. California manufacturers of gear oil and motor oil are strictly liable for faulty product they sell to consumers, because using the wrong grade oil can harm an engine.

Further investigation into other Warren Unilube products revealed that bottles of gear oil were mislabeled because they did not have a batch number, which is used to trace back tainted product and facilitate recalls if necessary, the district attorneys office continued. Thousands of improperly labeled bottles were found with font size being too small.

West Memphis, Ark.-based Warren Unilube admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement agreement, the district attorneys office noted, adding that the investigation did not reveal any evidence of actual harm caused to California consumers by the violations.

Warren did not respond to Lube Reports request for comment by press time.

According to the Orange County district attorney, Warren Unilube was cooperative during the investigation and worked with the Division of Measurement Standards to comply with California requirements. They voluntarily purchased additional equipment to ensure future batches of product are in compliance with California law, the district attorneys office noted.

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