Monday, September 19, 2016
Pilot Wants Judge to Block Record Requests
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Pilot Flying J is asking an Ohio judge to block two trucking companies from getting access to thousands of internal documents and a computer database with information on the truck stop firm's other customers.
In a 16-page filing in Franklin County Ohio Common Pleas Court, lawyers for Pilot are charging that the 303 pending discovery requests by FST Express and HB Logistics are unduly burdensome and seek information that will ultimately have no bearing on the pending litigation.
HB and FST are two of the three trucking firms still suing Pilot over charges that the Knoxville based firm cheated them out of millions of dollars in promised rebates on diesel fuel purchases.
In the latest filing lawyers for Pilot stated that an audit showed FST is only owed $11,000 and HB actually owes Pilot over $100,000.
The charges against Pilot stem from a federal probe in which a government agent described a wide ranging scheme by Pilot sales staffers to cheat customers out of promised rebates. Pilot already has paid over $150 million to settle claims from truckers and the federal government over the rebate shaving allegations.
In its motion, Pilot noted that the federal agent's affidavit made no mention of FST or HB.
"Plaintiffs seek to recover a windfall by pursuing manufactured claims of cost fraud against Pilot," the motion states.
Pilot said it already has produced 59 gigabytes or 72,889 pages of documents but it is unwilling to provide records relating to some 5,500 other customers over a nearly 10 year period.
According to the motion, a federal judge in a related case already had rejected the truckers requests for the same information.
As for providing access to its internal database, called SalesForce, Pilot said that would require lengthy review to exclude confidential information.
"Plaintiffs cannot seriously suggest that Pilot simply hand over the entire database replete with confidential information and potentially privileged information for thousands of non-party customers spanning nearly a decade without reviewing it," the filing concludes.
The third pending suit against Pilot over rebate allegations is proceeding in an Alabama court.
Ten former Pilot sales staffers have already entered guilty pleas to mail and wire fraud charges stemming from the rebate fraud probe and eight others have been indicted and are awaiting trial. They have all entered not guilty pleas.