Drivers

Request Denied to Consolidate Remaining Pilot Flying J Lawsuits

August 08, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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A request to consolidate remaining lawsuits against Pilot Flying J over claims of fraud has been denied.

In Maine, the federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled today in favor of the truckstop chain following arguments last month in which plaintiffs were looking to consolidate lawsuits.

Photo: Evan Lockridge
Photo: Evan Lockridge
Recently, Pilot Flying J reached a settlement with eight trucking companies that filed suit against it, following a raid on company headquarters by agents from the FBI and IRS, as part of an investigation that it shortchanged customers out of rebates and discounts stemming from fuel purchases.

While the settlement has received initial approval from a federal judge in Arkansas, a fairness hearing over it isn’t scheduled until late November. Plaintiffs who were not part of the settlement were pushing to consolidate the cases before then.

In its ruling the judges said:

“The Eastern District of Arkansas recently granted preliminary approval of a proposed nationwide class settlement, and final approval of the settlement will be considered in a few months. Centralization at this time could delay settlement proceedings. If plaintiffs who have not yet participated in settlement discussions wish to object of opt out of the proposed settlement, there are suitable mechanisms in place by which they may do so without the need for centralization.”

Around 20 companies have filed lawsuits against Pilot Flying J since the April 15 raid. The settlement calls for the company to pay back 100% of what customers are owned going back to the first of 2005, along with interest.

Some companies that were not part of the settlement have complained they were not able to take part in it or did not enough time to review documents to see if they agreed to it.

So far seven Pilot Flying J employees have pleaded guilty for their roles in the case while Pilot Flying J and CEO Jimmy Haslam have denied claims of wrongdoing, including in the settlement. Haslam has not been charged, but a criminal investigation continues.

It's estimated around 10 employees have been fired, resigned or put on leave since the FBI released the more than 100-page affidavit used to secure search warrants on Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville and the homes of some employees.

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