Panel approves consolidation of seven cases in Pilot alleged fuel rebate scam

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 4/8/2014

On Monday, April 7, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation granted Pilot Flying J’s motion to consolidate the seven remaining federal lawsuits filed against the truck stop chain.

The lawsuits were filed by seven trucking companies who opted out of an $85 million class action settlement, to pursue their own legal action against Pilot over its alleged fuel rebate scam.

The four-judge panel decided the seven lawsuits filed in six federal districts will be consolidated and transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Pilot had requested in its motion that the cases be transferred to the U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn.

Of the seven lawsuits, three were filed in federal court in Alabama: Shoreline Transportation of Greenville, Ala.; Osborne Transportation Inc. of Rainbow City, Ala.; and Wright Transportation of Mobile, Ala.

Two lawsuits filed by New Jersey-based companies, National Retail Transportation of North Bergen, and Mario’s Express Service of Edison – along with Triple D Supply of Las Cruces, N.M., and FST Express of Columbus, Ohio – will also be consolidated.

“The subject actions share factual issues arising out of allegations that defendants engaged in a fraudulent scheme of withholding diesel fuel price rebates or discounts that Pilot agreed by contract to apply to the diesel fuel purchases of its commercial trucking customers,” Judge John G. Heyburn II, Chairman of the Panel on Multi-District Litigation, wrote in the order on Monday, April 7.

The majority of the trucking companies affected by the alleged fuel rebate scam chose to be included in the $85 million class action settlement case, which was approved in federal court in Arkansas in November 2013.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service raided Pilot’s corporate headquarters on April 15, 2013, after an investigation was launched into Pilot’s fuel rebate program. 

So far, 10 former employees of Pilot Flying J have now pleaded guilty to their roles in the elaborate fuel rebate scam to reduce the amounts trucking companies were supposed to receive by exclusively buying their fuel from Pilot.

Pilot CEO James “Jimmy” Haslam III, who also owns the Cleveland Browns, has denied any involvement in the alleged scheme.

See related articles:
New hearing scheduled as Pilot seeks to consolidate federal cases
Judge approves nearly $85 million in Pilot Flying J class action settlement

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