Gas station report prompts suit

St. Paul Pioneer Press/April 13, 2005

The owners of an Anoka gas station that recently attracted attention for selling gasoline at unusually low prices filed a defamation lawsuit Tuesday in federal court against the Pioneer Press and three other Twin Cities media companies.

The Dr. R.C. Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology (SIST) of Wisconsin seeks more than $500 million from the Pioneer Press and similar amounts from the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune, Hubbard Broadcasting (KSTP-TV) and Midwest Communications (WCCO-TV).

SIST alleges in the suit that the Pioneer Press story of April 9 accused the Anoka Exxon station on U.S. 10 of engaging in illegal business conduct and that the story also made defamatory statements about SIST.

The newspaper story quoted other nearby gas stations as saying the Anoka Exxon was selling gasoline at a loss, possibly in violation of state law, and was threatening to drive them out of business.

The story quoted a spokesman of the Minnesota Department of Commerce confirming that the department was investigating "a station or stations'' in Anoka. Minnesota law requires stations sell gasoline at a minimum price or higher.

Paul Hannah, attorney for the Pioneer Press, said the lawsuit "is just a waste of time."

"There's nothing false in the article," Hannah said.

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