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CITGO Orscheln 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid False Advertising Missouri Class Action

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Bucket of  MileMaster 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid

This class action concerns tractor hydraulic fluid made by CITGO Petroleum Corporation and Orscheln Farm and Home, LLC. The complaint alleges that the products were advertised as being “universal” and “general purpose” and that those terms implied that the fluid was safe and effective, when in fact it was nothing of the kind.

The class for this action is all individuals who bought Orscheln Premium 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid or MileMaster 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid in Missouri between May 25, 2013 and the present.

The products are Premium 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid and MileMaster 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid, under the Orscheln brand. According to the complaint, the products were marketed and sold with certain implications:

  • As universal lubricants for farm, logging, and construction equipment.
  • As meeting specifications for use as hydraulic fluid, transmission fluid, and gear oil for older tractors and other equipment.
  • As substitutes that satisfied John Deere’s JD-303 specifications.
  • As formulated with base oils and additives that helped protect against wear, rust, corrosion, and foaming.
  • As replacement fluids in models where 303 fluid is acceptable, in equipment made by Allis-Chalmers, Massey, Ferguson, White, Allison, Case, International Harvester, Kubota, John Deere, New Holland, Ford, and Caterpillar. 

However, the complaint claims that all of these implications were false. 

First, the John Deere 303 designation was over fifty years old by this time. It was obsolete and there were no current specifications for 303 fluid. Second, the complaint says that the 303 products lacked some or all of the additives required to provide the benefits claimed for it. 

In addition, in 2017, the state of Missoui Department of Agriculture tested fourteen 303 products and found that none of them met any current specifications. It found, the complaint says, that the products “underperforming to the point that damage was likely to result from use.” The Department notified makers of the products that they were misbranded because they failed to meet specifications. 

The complaint alleges that the two products at issue in this case were among the 303 products tested and found wanting. Although the complaint does not provide definitive proof of this, it quotes an advertising correction notice put out late in 2017 by Orscheln: “Unfortunately we have just been informed by the Department of Agriculture State of Missouri that any 303 Tractor Hydraulic & Transmission Fluid must be pulled from our inventory and cannot be sold.” It later adds, “All 303 Tractor Hydraulic & Transmission Fluid is no longer in stock in Missouri.” 

The plaintiffs for this class action had been purchasing and using the fluid for a number of years. The complaint claims that they did not receive what they were paying for, that the product did not act as advertised, and that it may have been damaging equipment instead. Among the counts in the complaint are violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, breaches of warranties, fraud/misrepresentation, and negligence.

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