The attorney who filed a lawsuit on behalf of a trucking company against Pilot Flying J has followed through with a promise there would be more litigation, but that's only part of the latest talk about the truckstop giant.
Photo: Evan Lockridge
Shawn Cole, who represents Ohio-based, FST Express, has amended his original complaint so that it also includes J.F. Freight, located in Illinois.
The case, filed in U.S. District Court, for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, claims Pilot Flying J did not live up to a promise to give discounts on fuel purchases to J.F. Freight, but was allegedly told it was receiving them. It also claims that when the company asked about alleged discrepancies between what it actually paid for fuel and what it says it was supposed to have paid, Pilot Flying J said since the agreement was in not in writing, there was nothing that could be done about the situation
The suit claims J.F. Freight later received more than $12,000 and an apology after it spoke with Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam, but says the amount is only a small part of what it is still owed.
Last week, Ohio-based FST Express filed suit in federal court in Columbus claiming that it lost more than $75,000 in a scheme by Pilot Flying J to withhold rebates from fuel purchases to customers, with Cole saying more lawsuits were on the way.
More than two-dozen lawsuits have been filed against Pilot Flying J shortly after federal prosecutors released an affidavit it used to secure a series of search warrants that were executed in mid-April on company headquarters and elsewhere, as part of an FBI investigation into whether Pilot Flying J withheld rebates and discounts on fuel purchases to trucking customers
Since then seven people have pled guilty for the roles in the alleged scheme with several others being fired or placed on administrative leave. Those that have pleaded guilty have yet to be sentenced.
All along Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam has said he had no knowledge of what allegedly happened and denied any wrongdoing, but has also agreed to settle the matter with trucking companies that are taking part in a previously agreed to settlement, worth an at least an estimated $40 million. The last day for plaintiffs to opt-out of the settlement, which some have said they are doing, is Tuesday. A fairness hearing over the settlement is set for federal court in late-November.
Also last week, ESPN Legal Analyst Lester Munson weighed in on the matter facing Haslam, who is also the owner of the Cleveland Browns football team. He wrote that recent guilty pleas show “federal agents are working their way up the ladder of Pilot management” and “three lawyers involved in the investigation, speaking anonymously because of their obligations to their clients, told ESPN.com that they expect Haslam to be charged.”
According to Munson, the FBI investigation continues with agents and prosecutors sifting through millions of pages of emails and other documents.