Both sides agree to Moore Freight's motion to opt-out of proposed Pilot deal

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 11/4/2013

Attorneys on both sides have agreed to grant a Tennessee-based trucking company a late exclusion – or opt-out – of the Pilot Flying J rebate class action settlement deal.

According to court documents, Moore Freight Services Inc. of Mascot, Tenn., filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Ark., on Oct. 31, requesting exclusion from the proposed settlement, claiming it did not receive the settlement notice prior to the Oct. 15 opt-out deadline.

In his letter requesting exclusion from the proposed settlement deal, Dan R. Moore, president of Moore Freight, states the company did not find out about the deadline, which had passed, until Oct. 22.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys for the class, as well as Pilot’s attorneys representing the truck stop chain and seven named defendants, which include Pilot CEO James “Jimmy Haslam III, signed the stipulation to allow Moore Freight’s exclusion from the proposed settlement class on Nov. 1.

In its motion for exclusion, Moore Freight claims the company, which has about 216 power units, participated in Pilot’s rebate program, beginning “no later than November of 2007.”

However, in September 2012, Moore Freight filed a Chapter 11 voluntary bankruptcy petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

As part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, Pilot filed a motion seeking allowance of an administrative claim of more than $198,000 for fuel purchases made by Moore Freight, which the trucking company paid.

“Because Moore Freight had no knowledge at the time of any wrongfully withheld rebates, Moore Freight did not oppose the motion, and paid Pilot the full amount requested,” according to Moore Freight’s motion.

Besides paying Pilot’s fuel claim, Moore Freight claims in its motion that it also placed with Pilot “a deposit of $30,000, which is believed to be still held by Pilot.”

A fairness hearing on the proposed class settlement has been set for Nov. 25 in federal court in Arkansas. While some trucking companies have signed on to the proposed deal, other trucking companies have said no deal and still want the option to pursue their own legal action against Pilot.

Nearly 30 lawsuits have been filed in state and federal court against Pilot since the announcement in April that a criminal investigation had been launched into the truck stop chain over an alleged fuel rebate scam.

So far, seven former Pilot sales employees have pleaded guilty to their roles in the alleged scam to defraud trucking companies out of rebates they were owed as part of agreements to purchase a certain volume of fuel from Pilot each month.

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