New Hampshire trucker files class action lawsuit against Pilot Flying J

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 7/10/2013

A New Hampshire truck driver has filed a class action complaint against the nation’s largest truck stop chain, bringing the total number to 19 lawsuits filed Pilot Flying J since news of an alleged fuel rebate scheme broke in April.

Fred Woodward, an owner-operator from Epping, N.H., filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, July 9.

According to court documents, Woodward had a payback preferred customer card with Pilot, and alleges in his complaint that he, along with other customers, paid “substantially more for diesel fuel than the agreed-upon price.”

Pilot spokesman Tom Ingram of the Ingram Group told Land Line on July 8 that Pilot’s Chief Executive Officer James “Jimmy” Haslam and other employees have contacted “in the neighborhood of 400 (trucking companies) personally” as well as many more through written communication.

Five Pilot employees have pleaded guilty to fraud charges admitting their involvement in an alleged scheme to manually reduce the rebate amounts trucking company customers were supposed to receive. The FBI and Internal Revenue Service raided the company’s headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., on April 15.

Trucking companies affected by the alleged rebate scheme had contracts with Pilot to either receive a rebate check each month or be direct billed and sent an invoice for fuel purchases.

According to Woodward’s complaint, which seeks class action status, Pilot diesel fuel sales staff allegedly “targeted customers who utilized non-party credit lines such as TCheck, who were referred to as ‘low hanging fruit.’” He claims the company also intentionally withheld pricing information from its customers “who made inquiries about the rebate amounts they received.”

In his complaint, Woodward alleges Pilot engaged in conversion, violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, and committed breach of contract. He alleges that he and others in the putative class have “suffered ascertainable economic harm in excess of $5 million.”

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