Fuel Smarts

Owner-Operator Files Lawsuit Against Pilot Flying J

May 20, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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A seventh federal lawsuit has been filed against the truckstop chain Pilot Flying J, but it’s the first from an owner-operator trucker.

Attorneys for North Carolina-based Jerry Floyd filed the lawsuit in federal court in Pensacola, Florida on Friday, where they are seeking class action status, like many of the suits filed since mid-April. That’s when there was raid on Pilot Flying J’s Knoxville headquarters by FBI and IRS agents investigating allegations the company withheld rebates for fuel purchases by trucking customers to increase profits.

The lawsuit was filed in Florida because that is where Floyd does much of his business. It claims breach of contract, fraud and fraudulent concealment. It does not state how much Pilot Flying J allegedly owes him but does claim hundreds if not thousands of potential customers are eligible to join the litigation. All of the other lawsuits that have been filed have been from carriers.

This follows Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam speaking at conference of trucking executives on Thursday in Indianapolis where he said he was unaware of the alleged scheme but said he hoped that anyone who feels they are owed money by his company will deal directly with them and avoid litigation.

Following the raid on Pilot Flying J the FBI released the affidavit used to secure numerous search warrants claiming Haslam and other officials and salespeople with the company set up a system to shortchange trucking customers for a number of years. No arrests have been made since the raid though some employees have been put on administrative leave.

Jimmy Haslam is the brother of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who still owns a stake in the company that’s managed in a blind trust and hasn’t been involved in the business in many years. In addition to heading up the largest truckstop network in North America, Jimmy Haslam is the owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns football team. He’s set to attend the spring meeting of team owners on Tuesday in Boston where they issue of the investigation may come up. 

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