LAKE FOREST – A division of oil giant British Petroleum has sued a Lake Forest city councilman, owner of a local gas station, for more than $177,000.
Arco franchiser BP West Coast Products filed a lawsuit Feb. 14 claiming businessman Adam Nick defaulted on his contract by selling non-Arco gas under the Arco name at his Lake Forest Drive gas station.
The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, alleges Nick owes more than $104,000 for ending the contract early, as well as an additional $73,000 for gasoline, equipment and fees.
Steve Berger, Nick’s attorney, dismissed the lawsuit Monday as “frivolous.”
“This is so outrageous,” Berger said. “He doesn’t owe them a penny.”
The law firm representing BP West Coast Products did not respond to calls for comment.
Nick signed a contract in 2002 to operate the Arco AM/PM at 20572 Lake Forest Drive through late 2013.
According to Nick, Arco in 2009 offered him “nearly half a million dollars” to extend his contract, but he refused.
“From that point forth, our relationship went south,” Nick said.
Arco delayed shipments of fuel to the station or refused to send it at all, Nick said.
In less than three months, he ran out of gas nine times, he said. To keep the business going, he sold non-Arco gas.
“That is not in dispute,” Nick said.
In April 2011, Nick said he cut off the contract.
The lawsuit alleges Nick defaulted on the agreement, putting him on the hook for more than $104,000 in fees in connection with the contract’s termination.
Berger said Arco would bring gas later than it was requested, when the price had risen, to extract more money from Nick.
In addition, the company claims Nick owes about $73,000 more for gasoline, retail software, cashier equipment and royalty fees.
Nick, a longtime Lake Forest resident who emphasized his business experience during his election campaign, called the timing of the lawsuit “suspect.”
He accused the company of waiting until he became a public official to file the lawsuit, nearly two years after the contract ended.
The business is now a 76 ConocoPhillips station.
“We’re going to fight them tooth and nail,” Nick’s attorney, Berger, said. “If we hadn’t gotten rid of Arco they would’ve put (Nick) out of business with their ridiculous business practices.”
By SARAH de CRESCENZO/ ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced Orange County Bail Bondsman to assist you in any bail situation.