As red-letter day approaches in Federal Court in Arkansas next week for a judge to approve a class action settlement between the truckstop chain Pilot Flying J and trucking companies that claim they were cheated out of rebates from diesel purchases, no one in the class has yet to object to the deal, but some are pursuing their own remedies.
Photo: Evan Lockridge
According to published reports, attorneys for Pilot Flying J this week have asked the judge in the case to approve the more than $72 million settlement. A fairness hearing on it is set for Nov. 25 for final approval, after the judge tentatively signed off on it earlier this year.
Reportedly, only 1% or about 60 of Pilot Flying J’s more than 6,000 fleet customers have asked to be excluded from the settlement, choosing instead to pursue their own litigation, though Pilot Flying J has said that figure includes approximately 150 individual accounts.
More than $59 million in the form of reimbursements and interest will be distributed to trucking companies, with the rest going to pay for attorney fees.
The settlement comes in the wake of a raid on Pilot Flying J’s Knoxville headquarters in mid-April by FBI and IRS agents as part of their investigation the company was possibly cheating customers out of rebates due to them from fuel purchases.
So far seven Pilot Flying J employees have pleaded guilty for their roles but have yet to be sentenced with some being granted immunity by prosecutors for their cooperation. Around a dozen are reportedly cooperating with investigators and some have speculated others will eventually be charged in the alleged scheme.
Pilot Flying J and CEO Jimmy Haslam have denied any wrongdoing despite the settlement. In the meantime the company has deployed a team of internal auditors and contract auditors to sift through which customers were due money and calculating the amounts, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.
More than two-dozen lawsuits have been filed against North America’s largest truckstop operator since the raids, though some of this number is accepting the settlement.