Friday, May 6, 2016
Haslam Wants Lengthy Delay in Any Deposition
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Lawyers for Cleveland Browns owner James A. Haslam 3rd claim he will agree to a limited deposition but the conditions attached to the offer would delay any questioning for months.
In a court filing Friday and in a letter to the attorney representing an Alabama trucking firm, Haslam's lawyer said his client would agree to be deposed but only after a related appeal pending in federal court is resolved.
The action comes in a series of civil suits filed by truckers who have charged that the Haslam family owned truck stop firm known as Pilot Flying J, secretly reduced promised rebates.
That federal case is not even scheduled for oral arguments before a panel of federal judges until the week of July 11. In addition Haslam's offer would delay the deposition until at least 45 days after the federal court actually issues a decision in that case.
The offer comes as Haslam is facing demands that he appear to answer questions under oath in suits filed by four trucking companies in Ohio and Alabama.
In the letter to Stephen Tunstall, the attorney for Wright Transportation, Washington, D.C. attorney Stephen D. Brody said several other conditions would have to met before Haslam would undergo questioning including a seven-hour one day limit on questioning and allowing only one attorney to represent all four trucking companies.
"Mr. Haslam does not believe a deposition is warranted in either case," Brody wrote.
"We are disappointed in this gamesmanship, but eager to put it behind us," Brody added.
The offer comes as courts in Alabama and Ohio have been asked to require his testimony in the suits filed by trucking companies who have charged Haslam's Pilot Travel Centers has cheated them out of millions of dollars in promised diesel fuel rebates.
In the Alabama case Haslam already had been ordered to testify but his lawyers gained a postponement until after a hearing scheduled later this month.
In addition to Wright, claims have been filed in an Ohio case for FST Express, HB Logistics and Dick Lavy Trucking.
Pilot already has paid some $175 million to settle claims by other trucking companies and the federal government.