Judge dismisses key charges in Wright Transportation's lawsuit against Pilot

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 1/13/2014
A federal judge has dismissed several key counts in an Alabama-based trucking company’s class action complaint filed in July 2013 against Pilot Flying J over its alleged fuel rebate scam.

In his ruling on Friday, Jan. 10, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Steele dismissed Wright Transportation’s charges of deceptive business practices and racketeering against Pilot, as well as named defendants.

Judge Steele for the Southern District in Alabama in Mobile also ruled that Wright’s class action complaint is no longer valid since an $85 million class action settlement agreement was reached with trucking companies over its rebate program in November.

In its complaint, Wright Transportation filed a class action lawsuit against Pilot, as well as James A. Haslam III, John Freeman, Brian Mosher and Mark Hazelwood over an alleged fuel rebate scam, which potentially bilked trucking companies out of millions of dollars. Wright Transportation stated in the suit that it had a fuel rebate contract with Pilot Flying J from approximately 2005 until the time the lawsuit was filed.

However, Judge Steele did not dismiss Wright Transportation’s charges of breach of contract against Pilot and the defendants, stating that “it is difficult to imagine what could be missing from them.”

“The parties agreed to a set discount to be honored by rebate, and Pilot Flying J breached the agreement by rebating less than the full, agreed discount,” Steele wrote in his ruling. “The court can detect no deficiency in these allegations and the defendants’ cursory argument is unilluminating.”

Judge Steele also wrote in his ruling that Wright Transportation may amend and refile its pleadings in five of the counts alleged in its lawsuit.

Wright Transportation is one of 16 trucking companies that still has pending litigation against Pilot over its fuel rebate program. On Friday, Jan. 10, Western Express of Nashville, Tenn., reached an out-of-court settlement with the truck stop chain.

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