Civil lawsuits mount against Pilot Flying J over alleged fuel rebate scheme

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 4/29/2013

At least three class-action lawsuits have been filed against Pilot Flying J since its corporate headquarters in Knoxville, TN, were raided two weeks ago by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. The raid was over allegations that some of the company’s sales staff and executives conspired to defraud trucking companies out of millions of dollars.

The FBI and IRS fraud investigation focuses on an alleged rebate scheme where sales executives entered into rebate or discount program agreements with trucking companies for purchasing a certain volume of fuel each month, but then reduced the amount the companies were owed to increase the profitability of Pilot Flying J and their sales commissions.

According to court documents, National Trucking Financial Reclamation Services LLC of Little Rock, AR, filed a class action lawsuit against Pilot on April 24 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in Little Rock, AR. The lawsuit claims the company withheld “tens of millions of dollars in diesel fuel price rebates and discounts from customers since at least 2005.”

The six counts included in the National Trucking lawsuit against Pilot include fraud, deceptive trade practices, unjust enrichment, conversion, breach of contract and fraudulent concealment.

According to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website, National Trucking Financial Reclamation Services LLC, of Little Rock, AR, was incorporated on April 22, two days before their class action lawsuit was filed. According to the state’s website, Lane Kidd, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, is listed as the registered agent/officer of the newly formed limited liability corporation.

Another class action complaint was filed by Charles E. Winborn III, and W.T.W Enterprises Inc., of Roanoke, AL. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham on April 25. According to court documents, Winborn and W.T.W., which has about 22 power units and 20 drivers, both “entered into a contractual relationship with defendants (Pilot Flying J) as consumers to be provided certain rebates for purchases of diesel fuel at agreed upon rebate amounts” instead of purchasing fuel from the truck stop chain’s competitors.

The lawsuit alleges employees “willfully, routinely and systematically underwrote and underpaid the rebate amounts owed to plaintiffs, as well as others similarly situated.”

The first civil lawsuit was filed by Georgia-based Atlantic Coast Carriers over claims they were underpaid for their diesel fuel purchases based on their agreement with Pilot.

A week after the FBI, IRS raid, several sales associates with Pilot Flying J were placed on “administrative leave” after the affidavit was made public.

Related articles and blogs:
From the LL Blog: Pilot Flying J affidavit reveals possible racism 
Haslam: 'If we owe them money, we will write them a check immediately'
From the LL blog: 'Low hanging fruit'
Georgia trucking company files lawsuit against Pilot Flying J
New details emerge in Pilot Flying J criminal investigation
FBI, IRS investigation focuses on Pilot Flying J customer 'rebate' program

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