BALTIMORE — A Baltimore-based gas station company being sued for charging customers for air said Thursday it has been rolling out free air since April and hopes to have it available at all 16 city stations by year’s end.
Ed Stronski, marketing manager for Royal Farms, told The Daily Record of Baltimore that the company currently offers free air at four Baltimore stations, and will offer free air at all but 125 of its gas stations in the mid-Atlantic.
A class-action lawsuit was filed Monday under a little-known but longstanding Baltimore law that requires all gas stations in the city to provide at least one air pump to customers free of charge.
The case arose after Rebecca McCray of Owings Mills had to pay 50 cents to inflate her tires at a Royal Farms gas station in September.
Stronski said the company had been working on the issue for months before the lawsuit was filed. He said Royal Farms has not yet been served with the suit.
The lawsuit was filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court against Royal Farms’ parent company, Baltimore-based Two Farms Inc. It seeks to recover money for anyone who has paid to use air pumps at the 20 Royal Farms locations in Baltimore in the past 12 years.
Stacie Dubnow, a Towson attorney representing the plaintiffs, told The Daily Record that “one hundred percent of what was collected was illegal.”
The lawsuit also sought to require Royal Farms to provide air free of charge at its Baltimore locations.
After learning that Royal Farms was rolling out free air, Dubnow told The Associated Press that her client had paid for air in September, and she will still seek reimbursement for all Royal Farms customers who paid for air over the last 12 years.
Dubnow said she believes Baltimore is the only jurisdiction in Maryland with a law requiring free air pumps, although her law firm is investigating that.
“I’m accustomed to paying for air but it only seems appropriate it should be free,” she said. “It’s air, for goodness sake.”
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