Thursday, August 18, 2016
Pilot Flying J Denies Charges in Ohio Suit
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Pilot Flying J, the nationwide truck stop firm, says that it owes two trucking firms less than $13,500 in rebates and not the millions the companies are demanding in an Ohio civil suit.
In a 45-page response filed this week in Franklin County Court, lawyers for Pilot also denied that company CEO Jimmy Haslam had any knowledge of a scheme by some Pilot sales executives to cheat truckers out of promised rebates.
The long awaited response comes just after Franklin County Judge David C. Young denied a series of dismissal motions filed by Pilot and some of its former sales executives. Plaintiffs in the suit are FST Express and HB Logistics.
In its response Pilot called the charges, including fraud, unjust enrichment and breach of contract "vague and ambiguous. It is therefore difficult for Pilot to respond meaningfully to many of the allegations in the complaint."
Pilot "specifically denies plaintiffs were the victims of fraud," the filing states.
The suit is one of two remaining civil suits stemming from allegations that Pilot routinely cheated truckers out of promised rebates.
Those allegations surfaced following an FBI raid on Pilot's Knoxville headquarters. In a subsequent court filing an FBI agent, quoting from the transcripts of secretly recorded sales meetings, laid out a scheme to target truckers who were less likely to notice billing discrepancies.
Subsequently 10 former Pilot sales staffers entered guilty pleas and await sentencing.
In the response filed in the Ohio case, Pilot lawyers said HB Logistics and FST Express were not targets of any such scheme.
"Pilot denies that the FBI affidavit specifically refers to plaintiffs," the filing states.
"Pilot further denies that its CEO Jimmy Haslam had any knowledge of any fraudulent actions," it continues.
The filing states that a subsequent audit found that Pilot owed FST less than $11,000 and HB less than $2,500.
"Pilot remains willing and ready to pay any amount owed plaintiffs," the response states.
Pilot is also being sued in a Mobile, Ala. court on similar allegations brought by Wright Transportation. It previously settled a class action case in Arkansas for $83 million. A $92 million settlement was reached with the federal government.