An Arlington man yesterday filed suit against two local gas stations claiming that they "artificially and noncompetitively" raised their prices last month then refused to sell him gasoline when he complained about it.
The suit, which U.S. energy officials said may be the first of its kind in the nation, contends that on June 25 the Doyle Gulf Station at 834 N. Washington Blvd. and Ralph's Sunoco at 801 N. Washington Blvd. refused to sell gasoline at the lower self-service rates they had offered in previous months.
In his suit, filed in Alexandria General District Court, Daniel M. Wemhoff, of 1111 Arlington Blvd., contended that the Gulf station "breached its contract" with him by requiring him to wait "25 minutes in line" and then refusing to sell him gasoline.
He said in his suit that he was refused service after getting into an argument about the station's pricing policy.
When he went to the Sunoco station across the street, Wemhoff's suit contends, they also refused to serve him, giving in only when he called Alexandria City Police.
However, the managers of the two gas stations said yesterday that they had not refused to serve him but had refused to put leaded gasoline in Wemhoff's car, a 1978 model that takes only unleaded gas.
"I told him if I gave him the leaded gasoline I could get fined $10,000" by the federal government, said Patrick Doyle, 21, manager of the Gulf station, which his father owns. "We've taken a lot of abuse from the public since the gas crisis started, but why do I have to take this?" he asked.
Wemhoff eventually bought $13 worth of unleaded gasoline at the Sunoco station.