Pilot Flying J States Case for Class-Action Settlement
Class members “will be paid 100% of the amount owed, plus 6% interest”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pilot Flying J is explaining the consolidation of the lawsuits in which it is defending itself related to the federal investigation alleging fraud in the fuel retailer’s rebate and discount programs.
The company posted the following Q&A with attorney Aubrey Harwell, counsel for Pilot Flying J from Neal & Harwell, Nashville, Tenn., on its Rebate Education website.
Q: What is the class settlement all about?
A: Attorneys representing a number of Pilot Flying J customers and attorneys representing Pilot Flying J asked the federal court in Little Rock to consolidate all class-action lawsuits against Pilot Flying J into one suit with a proposed settlement in an effort to expedite any and all claims in the best interest of all parties, in the shortest amount of time and in the most cost-efficient manner.
Q: Is the consolidation and settlement final?
A: A fairness hearing, which many believe will result in final approval, is scheduled in Little Rock on Monday, Nov. 25. In the meantime, members of the eligible class of Pilot Flying J customers have until Tuesday, Oct. 15, to opt-out of the class.
Q: Which Pilot Flying J customers are eligible?
A: The court defined the eligible class as any Pilot Flying J customer who between Jan. 1, 2005, and April 15, 2013, bought over-the-road diesel fuel for commercial use from Pilot Flying J under a rebate or discount program.
Q: What does “opt out” mean?
A: According to the court, an eligible Pilot Flying J customer that does nothing automatically is a member of the class. Any customer that wants to pursue its own remedy outside of the class should notify the court by Oct. 15 that they do not want to be a member of the class, in which case the customer will “opt out.”
Q: What does the class settlement mean to Pilot Flying J customers that stay in the class?
A: Simply stated, it means every Pilot Flying J customer potentially owed an additional rebate or discount has an opportunity to be paid promptly, and with minimum effort, every dollar plus interest. More specifically, the settlement states that all Pilot Flying J customers that are part of the class and stay in the class will have their accounts audited from Jan. 1, 2005, through July 15, 2013, at no cost to the class member. Each class member then will be paid 100% of the amount owed, plus 6% interest. A notice regarding the settlement was mailed to class members in early August, and detailed information about the settlement, as well as the settlement agreement and certain court documents, can be found at www.DieselRebateSettlement.com.
Q: Why should a customer stay in the settlement?
A: The United States District Court in Little Rock has made a preliminary finding that this settlement “appears to be fair, reasonable and adequate.” A number of plaintiffs and their lawyers have also said that they think this settlement is fair and have agreed to it; one prominent lawyer representing trucking companies called it “the best settlement he had ever negotiated.” Nonetheless, Pilot Flying J does not want any customer that is uncomfortable with the settlement to feel it has to participate. Pilot Flying J values and appreciates its customers’ opinions and right to do as they believe best.
On July 16, the U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Ark., gave preliminary approval to the consolidation and oversight of all class-action lawsuits filed against Pilot Flying J in conjunction with the federal investigation alleging fraud in Pilot Flying J’s diesel fuel sales rebate and discount programs. A fairness hearing is scheduled in Little Rock on Nov. 25, at which time many observers expect the court to give final approval to the settlement proposed in this case.
Pilot Flying J said it believes the proposed settlement is good for its customers and that they should participate in the settlement because:
- It provides that all Pilot Flying J customers who are owed money will be paid quickly every dollar owed plus interest.
- It provides a complete and fair review of each Pilot Flying J customer’s account from 2005 forward.
- Pilot Flying J customers will know that their accounts are being audited with court oversight and that they have options if they do not agree with the audit results.
- Pilot Flying J customers do not need to hire and pay a lawyer to receive any payment owed.