Thursday, December 10, 2015
By Walter F. Roche Jr
Pilot Flying J and its top executives including CEO James Haslam are now facing claims from four trucking firms alleging they were cheated out of promised rebates.
The suits, in state courts in Alabama and Ohio, follow the procedural dismissal of federal suits that contained similar allegations.
In Alabama, Wright Transportation of Mobile has filed a 43-page complaint charging the truck stop firm with unjust enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of contract.
In Ohio, a third trucking firm has joined with two others that already had filed suit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
HB Logistics, an Alabama firm, joined Dick Lavy Trucking and FST Express in a suit that charges that Pilot sales staff deliberately misled truckers, including HB Logistics President Clay Halla about its pricing schemes.
The suit charges Halla was told he was being charged Pilot's actual cost, when in fact the cost figure was based on a little known industry standard, not what the truck stop firm actually paid.
The complaint states that Pilot sales executive John Freeman, whom Halla trusted, intentionally misled him.
The 42 page complaint charges that the scheme was known by Haslam and his top executives Mark Hazelwood and Mitchell Steenrod.
Haslam has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the pricing and rebate schemes.
HB's suit include claims by yet another firm, McGriff Transportation, which ceded its rights of recovery to HB.
The Ohio and Alabama complaints both recount in detail a 120- page affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn. which describes secretly recorded Pilot sales meetings at which the rebate scheme was discussed.
They also recount the fact that top Pilot sales executives already have entered guilty pleas to mail and wire fraud charges and that the company paid $92 million to settle a civil case with the federal government. Another $84 million was paid to settle a class action suit filed by other trucking firms.
Wright, FST Express, Dicky Lavy Trucking and HB Logistics opted out of that settlement.