Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Three More Truckers Want in on Haslam Deposition
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Lawyers for three trucking firms, who have charged Pilot Flying J with cheating on promised rebates, are asking an Ohio judge to let them join in on a deposition of Pilot chief and Cleveland Browns owner James A. Haslam 3rd.
In a motion filed this week in Franklin County Court in Ohio, the three trucking firms are seeking to participate in a Haslam deposition scheduled for May 11 in Knoxville, Tenn,
Citing an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, lawyers for FST Express, HB Logistics and Dick Lavy Trucking state that Haslam "has information relevant to plaintiffs' claims."
The motion comes in one of the few remaining civil suits stemming from allegations that Pilot routinely cheated on rebates promised to truckers. The allegations already have cost Pilot $175 million to settle claims from other truckers and the federal government.
In the eight-page motion, FST lawyers cite the transcripts of secretly recorded Pilot sales meetings in which sales executives discuss Haslam's awareness of the rebate skimming scheme.
The transcript includes a conversation in which then Pilot Vice President John Freeman states, "Oh he (Haslam) knew it. I called Jimmy and told him I got busted at Western Express."
Freeman was referring to a case in which a Nashville, Tenn. firm learned that it had been cheated on promised rebates.
The action in the Ohio case comes as Haslam already has been ordered to testify in a parallel case brought by an Alabama trucking firm.
"Haslam's deposition is already scheduled to take place that day (May 11) in Knoxville pursuant to an order issued by an Alabama court in a similar action," the motion states.
Lawyers for Haslam are fighting that order and have asked the Alabama judge to reverse the decision.
Wright's attorneys have responded by charging that Haslam has been dodging a deposition and that his testimony is critical in establishing a case against Hazelwood, the former president who reported to Haslam. Wright also cites the Freeman comments about Haslam's involvement in the federal affidavit,
Haslam has repeatedly insisted that he was unaware of the scheme to cheat on promised rebates.
Ten former Pilot sales staffers already have entered guilty pleas to mail and wire fraud charges and await sentencing. An additional eight former employees, including former President Mark Hazelwood, have been indicted and have entered not guilty pleas.