303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid Class Actions

303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid Class Actions

Tractor hydraulic fluids (THF) are used to lubricate hydraulic systems, brakes, and certain other systems in farming, construction and logging equipment. Prior to 1974, John Deere manufactured and sold a multi-use THF called JD 303. The 303 fluid contained sperm whale oil, which was banned from use in the mid-1970s. As a result, John Deere discontinued production of the 303 fluid and the 303 designation became obsolete. Over the years that followed, John Deere developed and improved on several other specifications for its tractor hydraulic fluids; the current specification is referred to as J20C.

Although the 303 designation has been obsolete for more than 40 years and the original specification is unknown, certain lubricant manufacturers and sellers have been using the old John Deere 303 name and producing and selling THF as 303 in bright yellow buckets at various farm and manufacturing supply stores in Missouri and throughout the United States. The mislabeled THF often fails to meet any manufacturers’ specifications and is typically made with inferior component products not appropriate for use in a tractor hydraulic fluid. These mislabeled 303 fluids can cause harm, increased wear and damage to consumers’ equipment. In November 2017, the State of Missouri banned the sale of these “yellow bucket” THF products labeled as 303 fluids. White, Graham, Buckley & Carr, L.L.C. was the first to pursue the litigation, which was featured in a Kansas City Business Journal article, Sale of Hydraulic Fluid Spurs Call for Class Action.

Learn more about our class action work to address the damages caused by 303 THF here.

Our attorneys are currently working with farmers and manufacturers to recover damages stemming from the deceptive and misleading 303 THF products, including claims of:

    • Violation of state consumer protection laws
    • Breach of express warranty
    • Breach of implied warranty
    • Fraudulent misrepresentation
    • Negligent misrepresentation
    • Unjust enrichment

If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys about potential 303 tractor hydraulic fluid litigation, contact us today.

 

303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid Resource Center

 

CASE BACKGROUND - ONGOING CASES

Yoakum v. NAPA Auto Parts: The class of plaintiffs in this case purchased NAPA Quality Tractor Hydraulic & Transmission Fluid sold by defendant NAPA Auto Parts retail stores in Cass County and throughout the state of Missouri. Similar to the cases above, the defendant’s 303 THF product did not meet the tractor hydraulic fluid specifications of the manufacturers listed on the labels and advertising of their 303 THF product.

Prior to the filing of a class action petition, NAPA sold and advertised 303 THF products in yellow buckets as a fluid called NAPA Quality Tractor Hydraulic & Transmission Fluid as an acceptable replacement tractor hydraulic fluid in equipment manufactured by Allison, Ford, John Deere, Caterpillar, Allis Chalmers, New Holland, Oliver, Deutz, Clark, J.I. Case, International Harvester, Massey Ferguson and White.

 

In re: Smitty’s/Cam2 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation: A nationwide group of plaintiff consumers represented by WGBC and its co-counsel team have filed class actions for over 40 states against Smitty’s Supply, Inc. and CAM2 International, LLC, which have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceeding in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. These purchasers bought “303” fluid manufactured and sold by Smitty’s and CAM2 across the United States.

The class action cases were originally filed in several states against defendants Smitty’s, CAM2, Rural King, Orscheln, Atwood’s and Tractor Supply Company, asserting various claims for relief on behalf of consumers in those states. The consolidated class action MDL now covers purchasers’ claims nationwide.

According to plaintiffs, investigations revealed the defendants had misleadingly labeled the Super S SuperTrac 303, Super S 303, Cam2 Promax 303 and Cam2 303 THF and that the THF exposed purchasers’ equipment to increased wear and damage when the product was purchased and used in tractors and other hydraulic equipment. This case is ongoing.

  • View the court’s information website for this MDL here.

 

CASE BACKGROUND - SETTLED CASES

Hornbeck v. Tractor Supply Company: Like many other consumers throughout Missouri, prior to the State of Missouri’s ban the plaintiffs in this class action purchased a 303 THF product called Super S Super Trac 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid at Tractor Supply Company retail stores. The Super S Super Trac 303 THF was manufactured by Smitty’s Supply, Inc. and was advertised to assist with anti-wear properties, brake chatter, extreme pressure properties, foam suppression, PTO clutch performance, rust protection, and water sensitivity.

The 303 THF product was used by plaintiffs on equipment, including John Deere Skid Steer Loader Hydraulic System, 1944 John Deere B Tractor, 1950 John Deere 50 Tractor, Hay Wagon Lift Cylinder, Log Splitter Hydraulic Tank, 1952 Chevy Grain Truck Lift Cylinder, and 1958 International Dump Lift System. The plaintiffs allege the labeling of the product was deceptive and misleading, and that the product exposed their equipment to increased wear and damage.

  • View the docket here.

 

Miller v. O’Reilly Automotive, Inc.: Similar to the case above, prior to the State of Missouri’s ban the plaintiffs purchased mislabeled 303 THF products, specifically O’Reilly 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid, for O’Reilly retail stores.. The plaintiff allege the defendants’ THF did not meet manufacturer specifications and as fluids that are safe for use in farm, construction and logging equipment and have certain characteristics and qualities that protect equipment from wear and damage.

By naming, labeling, marketing, advertising and selling the 303 THF product in such a misleading manner, and by describing the product using words such as “multi-service” and “excellent performance,” plaintiff allege the defendants led them to conclude that defendants’ 303 THF was completely safe and effective for use in consumers’ equipment and all equipment made by the listed manufacturers.

The plaintiffs allege damage to their equipment, including excessive wear, leakage in the seals, exposure to spiral gear damage, improper and poor shifting, wear and damage to the wet brakes, high pump leakage, and damage from deposits, sludging and thickening.

  • View the docket here.

 

Hornbeck v. Orscheln Farm and Home, et al.: Prior to the state of Missouri’s ban on the sale of “303” tractor hydraulic fluids, the plaintiffs in this case purchased defendant Citgo Petroleum’s “303” fluids, including its Premium 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid and MileMaster 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid sold by defendant Orscheln Farm and Home retail stores as well as at other retailers throughout Missouri and the United States.

WGBC and their co-counsel team initially filed suit on behalf of dozens of Missouri consumers after investigations revealed that the defendants had misleadingly labeled the 303 fluid, which they alleged then exposed purchasers’ equipment to increased wear and damage when the product was purchased and used in tractors and other hydraulic equipment. The case was expanded nationwide and included four different products sold in a variety of sizes – MileMaster 303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid, H-K 303 Tractor Transmission Hydraulic Fluid, Premium 303 Tractor Hydraulic & Transmission Fluid and SuperTech 303 Tractor Hydraulic Oil – which were sold at retailers including Farm & Fleet, Orscheln Farm and Home, and Walmart.

On October 13, Chief District Judge Beth Phillips of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri approved an almost $19 million class action settlement, which provided substantial payments to over 30,000 class members nationwide. The settlement fund allowed class members to claim reimbursements of up to 100% of the purchase price of the fluid, as well as reimbursement for any repairs and specific equipment damage resulting from the use of the misleadingly labeled THF. The lawsuit resulted in the second-largest settlement in the state of Missouri in 2020.

  • View the docket here.

 

Allicks, et al. v. Omni Specialty Packaging, LLC, et al.: This class action case was brought by WGBC and their co-counsel team on behalf of a nationwide class of plaintiffs against O’Reilly Auto Parts and two associated companies for the manufacturing and sale of “303”: tractor hydraulic fluid. The team initially filed class actions in several states against the defendants – O’Reilly, Omni Specialty Packaging LLC and Ozark Automotive Distributors Inc. – in 2019 and 2020 on behalf of thousands of consumers after investigations revealed that the defendants had misleadingly labeled the THF.

In November 2010, the team secured preliminary approval of an $8.5 million class action settlement fund for the nationwide class. The settlement agreement consolidated the various cases into a single case in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Allicks et al v. Omni Specialty Packaging, LLC. The settlement was given final approval by the court on May 28, 2021, and provided refunds to tens of thousands of class members in 46 states.

 

Burgess v. Martin Operating Partnership: The class of plaintiffs in this case purchased 303 Tractor Hydraulic and Transmission fluid (THF) manufactured by Martin Lubricants and sold at Family Farm and Home Center retail stores in Cass County and throughout the state of Missouri. The plaintiffs alleged the defendant’s 303 THF products – Martin-manufactured Orscheln Premium 303 THF and Martin 303 THF – did not meet the tractor hydraulic fluid specifications of the manufacturers listed on the labels of their 303 THF product.

White, Graham, Buckley & Carr L.L.C. and their co-counsel team secured a $450,000 class action settlement fund for the class of plaintiffs after proving the defendants falsely and deceptively labeled, marketed and offered for sale the 303 THF as “field tested” in farm, logging and construction equipment. The settlement fund provided purchasers in the state of Missouri with a refund for their purchases, as well as a fund to compensate them for damage the 303 fluid caused to their equipment.

Prior to the filing of the class action petition, defendants sold and advertised 303 THF products in yellow buckets called 303 Tractor Hydraulic & Transmission Fluid as an acceptable replacement tractor hydraulic fluid in equipment manufactured by Allis Chalmers, Ford Tractor, Allison, International Harvester, Massey Ferguson, Caterpillar, JI Case/David Brown, Oliver, Deutz and White.

 

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