Thursday, November 3, 2016
Arguments Continue as Key Pilot Hearing Approaches
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
With a key hearing date approaching, Pilot Travel and two of its one time trucking customers are continuing to debate and they can't even agree when the debate should end.
Franklin County Ohio Judge David C. Young has set Nov. 17 as the date for a hearing on whether the two trucking firms, HB Logistics and FST Express, can get access to Pilot's SalesForce database.
The judge will also hear arguments on whether Pilot can file another response to the trucking firm's latest filings in support of its motion for access to SalesForce.
The arguments over arguments is but the latest development in two of the three remaining civil suits stemming from the charges that the Knoxville, Tenn. based truck stop firm routinely cheated diesel fuel customers out of promised rebates.
In the latest filing, lawyers for Pilot are charging that the truckers recent filing included a document that is confidential under a protective order issued in a federal court suit. In fact the document contains information from the SalesForce database on a company called Wright Transportation, an Alabama trucking firm.
Wright is the third firm still suing Pilot in an ongoing suit in Mobile, Ala.
In fact Pilot lawyers argue, the document proves their point: that truckers new that when Pilot told truckers they would be getting a discount based on the cost of fuel, those truckers knew that the cost wasn't Pilot's actual cost, but a cost based on an industry standard.
"Plaintiffs continue to contort the facts and law in an effort to justify their request to dig through the interactions with thousands of other customers," the filing states.
Pilot contends that the database contains confidential business information about the firm's dealings with hundreds of trucking firms that have nothing to do with the FST and HB transactions.
In earlier filings the FST and HB attorneys said the database is the key piece of evidence needed to prove that the Pilot rebate scheme went much deeper than has been revealed and totaled some $4 billion.
Pilot, however, charged the truckers "completely mis-characterize" the evidence, which actually supports Pilot's contention.
The rebate scheme already has cost Pilot some $175 million to settle claims from other truckers and the federal government. Ten former Pilot sales staffers have entered guilty pleas to mail and wire fraud charges. Eight more, including the former president, face a 2017 trial on similar charges. They have all pleaded not guilty.