Pilot Flying J Seeks to Consolidate Remaining Lawsuits
New hearing scheduled in request to transfer last federal cases to Knoxville
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Attorneys for Pilot Flying J Inc. have been granted a new hearing to consolidate seven remaining federal lawsuits alleging fuel rebate fraud, reported Newsnet5.
The FBI and IRS raided Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., on April 15, 2013, to investigate the alleged scheme to cheat trucking companies out of rebates for diesel fuel purchased at the chain's more than 650 truckstops.
Court documents cited by the news outlet filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego revealed that a March 27, 2014, hearing is scheduled for oral arguments by Pilot Flying J attorneys and those representing trucking companies that claim they were cheated out of promised fuel rebates, the report said.
Pilot Flying J reached an $85 million settlement with hundreds of trucking customers who were affected by the alleged fraud. The company has agreed to repay any amounts owed plus 6% interest; however, more than a dozen companies are pursuing lawsuits outside of the settlement, and Pilot Flying J is seeking to consolidate the pretrial proceedings in several federal cases.
In January, a federal judge dismissed racketeering and deceptive trade practices charges against the company.
In an order issued late last week by a U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, the panel ordered that it "may, on its own initiative, consider transfer of any or all of the actions" to any district or districts, the report said.
In documents filed with the court, Pilot Flying J attorneys have argued that the remaining lawsuits should be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Pilot's attorneys argued that the company is based in Knoxville, the majority of documents are located in Knoxville and six of the named defendants in the lawsuits "live in or around" Knoxville.
In addition to the remaining federal lawsuits, five additional trucking companies are pursuing lawsuits in state courts in Tennessee and South Carolina, the report said.
Pilot Flying J has more than 650 retail locations and 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, of which more than 2,800 offer diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) at the pump. Its CEO, Jimmy Haslam, also owns the Cleveland Brown football team.