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Financial troubles continue for Fuller Oil as company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Last modified: 11/11/2014 12:31:29 AM
Fred Fuller Oil and Propane Co., one of the state’s largest home-heating providers, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to records submitted yesterday in New Hampshire’s federal court.

The filing comes after a financially troublesome year for Fuller and his Hudson-based company, which struggled last year to fill customer orders. The company was sued in September for nearly $5 million in nonpayment by Sprague Energy Corp.

In turn, Fuller Oil sued FairPoint Communications in October arguing problems with its telephone system led to the company’s delivery problems during one of the coldest snaps of the winter.

On top of the financial lawsuits, Fuller was also expected in federal court in Concord tomorrow for the opening of a sexual harassment trial involving two former employees. That trial has been postponed, pending the outcome of the bankruptcy proceedings.

The former employees, Nichole Wilkins and Beverly Mulcahey, claim Fuller made unsolicited physical advances and then fired Mulcahey when Wilkins formally complained. Wilkins later resigned. They filed the suit last year.

The business, which has operated for nearly five decades and serves tens of thousands of New Hampshire residents, came under fire last winter when it failed to meet customer obligations. Company officials blamed severe weather, crushing demand and an unforeseen technical malfunction that downed the company’s phone system in early January. The state set up an emergency hotline for customers unable to contact the company.

The bankruptcy case was initially filed yesterday under Chapter 7, but that has since been terminated and replaced with a Chapter 11 restructuring proposal. Chapter 11 would allow the company to continue serving customers this winter.

Senior Assistant Attorney General James Boffetti began meeting with Fuller’s attorneys in September after learning of the Sprague lawsuit, according to the Union Leader. Boffetti, head of the Consumer Protection & Antitrust Bureau, said he wanted to ensure that customers would be guaranteed the fuel they had already paid for in the coming winter, it reported.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319 or jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

Note: This article has been updated to reflect the Chapter 11 filing. An earlier version cited the original Chapter 7 case.


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