At least the 10th lawsuit has been filed against Pilot Flying J over allegations the company bilked trucking customers out of financial rebates, the second following the guilty pleas of two Pilot Flying J employees last week.
Lawyers for Ohio Auto Delivery filed the class action in federal court in Toledo. The suit is similar to many of the others that have been filed against the truckstop chain, which was raided in mid-April by the FBI and the IRS.
The suit claims in August of 2004 the carrier entered into an agreement with Pilot Flying J for fuel delivery services, but that the truckstop chain later “engaged in an unlawful and intentional scheme to defraud and cheat [Ohio Auto Delivery] and class members by depriving them of their proper fuel rebates and discounts for the purpose of increasing its profitability, increasing its return on investment, and increasing the compensation of executives."
The suit does not say what amount of damages it is seeking.
Pilot Flying J and CEO Jimmy Haslam have denied such accusations, but Haslam has also said there could be about 250 companies his company owes money to and has asked anyone with such grievances to deal directly with the company rather than filing a lawsuit.
This new litigation follows a regional sales director and account executive pleading guilty to charges last week for their role in the alleged scheme. Some believe this is just the beginning of prosecutors brining further charges against Pilot Flying J and may result in many more civil lawsuits against the company.
Meanwhile, questions are being raised about one Pilot Flying J board member who is involved in an internal investigation about any impropriety at the company.
When R. Brad Martin headed the department store chain Saks, the company agreed to pay $60 million fine following an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it kept millions of dollars owed to clothing suppliers, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. The paper notes that the incidents seems to mirror allegations involving Pilot Flying J. Martin was never charged and the company never admitted any guilt. He left the company soon afterward following a reported management shakeup.