Ohio-based trucking company files lawsuit against Pilot Flying J

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, October 10, 2013

An Ohio-based trucking company has opted out of a proposed class action settlement and has filed a complaint against Pilot Flying J.

In its suit, FST Express Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, claims it was defrauded in an alleged fuel rebate scheme that has been the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.

According to court documents filed on Tuesday, Oct. 8, in federal court in Ohio, FST first noticed a discrepancy with its fuel rebate with Pilot back in 2011. The complaint states that after calling Pilot about the discrepancy, a check was sent to FST for more than $22,600.

In the complaint, Janet Welch, former senior account manager for Pilot, who has pleaded guilty to her role in the alleged fuel rebate scheme, told FST President Dave Kent at the time that a discrepancy occurred “when we changed your discounts in July, our normal discount person was out and there was an error made when flagging the new deal.”

“Unbeknownst to plaintiff (FST) at that time, defendant (Pilot) was being investigated by the FBI for engaging in fraudulent activity directed toward its customers,” according to the lawsuit.

The company has 72 power units and 62 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER website. In its complaint, which seeks a jury trial, FST charges Pilot with fraud, breach of contract and conversion. The suit also alleges that Pilot violated Ohio’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Tennessee’s Consumer Protection Act, as well as unjust enrichment.

So far, seven Pilot employees have pleaded guilty to their roles in the alleged fuel rebate scam and dozens of lawsuits have been filed in state and federal court.

A hearing in federal court in Arkansas is scheduled for November on preliminary approval on a class action settlement where Pilot would pay back companies the money it owes, plus interest.

Trucking companies have until Oct. 15 to opt out of the proposed class action settlement.

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