Pilot Flying J Revises Class-Action Settlement
Court also orders establishment of new informational website on case
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Pilot Flying J Inc. has revised a class-action settlement with trucking companies that were cheated out of fuel rebates, reported the Associated Press. It has also launched a new website for the settlement.
The Knoxville, Tenn.-based company has been the subject of intense scrutiny since April 15, when agents of the FBI and the IRS raided its headquarters, and seized documents, emails and computer files related to the alleged scheme to defraud trucking-company customers at its more than 650 truckstops.
The original settlement required Pilot Flying J to pay back all money owed with interest. But it only covered the period between Jan. 1, 2008, and July 15, 2013. The revised settlement covers overcharging that occurred as far back as Jan. 1, 2005.
The change answers one of the concerns raised by trucking companies that did not participate in the settlement negotiations. Those companies have criticized the terms and asked the federal courts to let them go forward with their own lawsuits.
A federal judge in Arkansas granted preliminary approval of the revised settlement on Wednesday, said the report.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas gave preliminary approval last week to a nationwide class-action settlement agreement between Pilot Flying J and a class defined as all persons and entities in the United States who purchased over the road diesel fuel for commercial use in Class 7 and Class 8 vehicles from Pilot Flying J pursuant to a diesel fuel rebate program or discount program, the company said in a press statement.
The court's order establishes procedures for notice of the settlement, including the establishment of a website maintained by the class administrator: www.dieselrebatesettlement.com.
The agreement provides for settlement of payments potentially owed to some Pilot Flying J rebate or discount customers. The settlement payments will be subject to review by an independent accountant approved by the court.
"This is an unfortunate time for our customers and our company, but we remain committed to making things 100% right with our customers, to put systems in place to help ensure this does not happen again, and to re-earn our customers' trust," said Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam.
After the agreement's preliminary approval last week, Haslam commended the company and class-action lawyers for the plan, which expedites the legal process by:
- Auditing accounts of customers who received a rebate and/or discount from Pilot Flying J from the period covered by the settlement.
- Paying customers 100% of any monies owed, with 6% interest, as soon as discrepancies are verified.
- Allowing for an independent accountant, approved by the court and paid for by Pilot Flying J, to validate Pilot Flying J's internal audit process.
- Offering a right to dispute audit results.
- Offering customers the opportunity to opt out, because they do not like the agreement or because they simply do not want to participate in the class action.
- Pilot Flying J will pay all costs related to the process of the customer claims and the litigation, which includes audit costs (both internal and external), administrative costs and legal fees, saving customers significant time and money.
Pilot Flying J is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America. Its network provides customers with access to more than 60,000 parking spaces for trucks, more than 4,400 showers and more than 4,000 diesel lanes. Pilot Logistics Services is one of the largest independent energy logistics companies in North America, selling and distributing more than 1.3 billion gallons of refined petroleum products and serving more than 15,000 customers. Together, Pilot Flying J and Pilot Logistics Services generate sales of approximately nine billion gallons of petroleum annually.