Photo: Evan Lockridge
After a few weeks of relative quiet, things have started heating back up between Pilot Flying J and trucking companies that are suing the truckstop chain over allegations it cheated trucking companies out of fuel rebates.
The nation’s largest truckstop operator is asking a federal court in Alabama to dismiss a suit against it from Wright Transportation. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports the suit filed by the carrier relies almost entirely on the FBI affidavit used to secure search warrants against Pilot Flying J that were served in mid-April as part of the FBI investigation. Pilot Flying J is also pushing back against claims by Wright that it violated federal racketeering laws.
Pilot Flying J claims Wright was not a target of any such scheme and denies any such scheme existed.
Wright Transportation is one of many companies that reportedly opted out of a settlement reached this summer between trucking companies and Pilot Flying J.
It is estimated about 150 out of Pilot Flying J’s thousands of customers have opted out of the settlement or have plans to file lawsuits against Pilot Flying J claiming they were cheated out of money. Some that are opting out have reportedly already received payments for any money they felt they were owed and say they are satisfied with what they have received. Others, however, are not happy with the settlement.
A fairness hearing over the settlement, estimated to be at least $40 million, plus attorney fees, is set for Nov. 25 in Little Rock, Ark. It includes paying all money that trucking customers feel they are owed, along with interest.
More than two dozen lawsuits have been filed by trucking customers against Pilot Flying J following the raid.
So far seven Pilot Flying J employees have pleaded guilty for their roles in the alleged rebate fraud, though none have been sentenced. At least some are reportedly cooperating with prosecutors, with the speculation there will be further indictments. Others have been put on administrative leave by the company.
In a notice published on the Pilot Flying J rebate website a few days ago, it said, “Our field audit team completed its initial review of current manual rebate accounts on June 30, notified almost every customer whose account had a discrepancy, and sent those customers checks for the amount of the discrepancy plus interest. We continue to review and update these accounts.”
The company says it is now finalizing its audit of all other diesel fuel accounts with any type of direct discount agreement with Pilot Flying J from 2005 to date, and expects to complete this process by the end of the year. This also includes a review of Pilot Flying J’s audit process by an independent accounting firm.
Pilot Flying J says customers have the option to have a third-party independent auditor review their records, at no cost, in addition to its internal auditors’ review.
It also notes it has completed the conversion of all manual rebate customers to electronic calculations.
“Any customer who has requested to remain as a rebate customer has had their contract confirmed in writing and been placed in an electronic program. This electronic program contains additional policies and procedures to ensure accuracy,” it says.