Decision Day for Companies in Pilot Flying J Lawsuitby Jana Ritter - Published: 10/15/2013
Tuesday is a big day for trucking companies suing Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Pilot Flying J as the deadline looms in what has become a huge class-action lawsuit. Nearly 30 trucking companies have filed lawsuits claiming they were cheated out of promised fuel rebates and came after the huge public display of the ongoing federal investigation that resulted in a raid of Flying J Headquarters.
Trucking companies have until the end of Tuesday to notify a federal judge in Little Rock, Arkansas whether they're willing to settle the case or continue fighting in court. The must decide if what Haslam and Pilot Flying J are offering trucking companies (100 percent of what they were shorted plus 6 percent interest) is enough to avoid the hassle of a drawn out lawsuit. While a federal judge has already given the green light to the proposed settlement that awaits, the final approval will be in November when a fairness hearing is scheduled.
Meanwhile, trucking companies that don't want any part of the deal and wish to be excluded, as well as those who object to the terms of the tentative settlement, are required to notify the court in writing with an Oct. 15,2013 postmark.
So far, eight of 28 trucking companies appear ready to take the cash and go home, and some of the remaining 20 have indicated they intend to decline the deal and continue fighting in court.
Pilot had also asked the federal court in Little Rock, Ala. to consolidate all class action lawsuits against the company into one suit. Pilot's attorneys said this was an effort to speed up the court process in order to save companies time and money. The proposed settlement will go before a fairness hearing for final approval in Little Rock on Nov. 25.
After the federal investigation revealed that Pilot allegedly cheated hundreds of trucking companies out of money they were owed in a fuel rebate program, the companies started banning together to form the class action suit. Haslam then tried to counter that by boosting effort to fix the issues, pay back the customers and restore the Pilot Flying J name.
The customers eligible for the class action lawsuit bought diesel fuel for commercial purposes, using Pilot's rebate or discount program between January 2005 and April 2013.