Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pilot Gets 2nd Environmental Citation Under Haslam

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Tennessee environmental officials have issued a violation notice for a Pilot Flying J facility for only the second time since Gov. Bill Haslam, whose family owns the truck stop firm, took office in early 2011.
The notice along with a $3,200 fine was issued May 10 for a Pilot Flying J. facility in Greeneville.
According to the notice issued by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation the violation was discovered during an inspection on Nov. 25, 2016 of the Greene County facility.
The inspection showed piping for an underground fuel storage tank failed to include an automatic leak detection device. Also missing from the truck stop at 11190 Baileyton Rd. in Greenevile was a required shear valve anchoring device.
The original 10-page complaint against Pilot was issued in the name of TDEC Commissioner and Haslam appointee Robert J. Martineau.
According to TDEC records the last time a citation was issued against the Knoxville, Tenn. truck stop firm was on Nov. 25, 2013 for a facility in Pioneer, Tenn. The company was fined $2,000 for failure to have required overfill protection.
 The next oldest citation came on Nov. 8, 2010, about two months before Haslam took office. In fact 10 violation notices were issued against Pilot in 2010 alone.
TDEC records show Pilot had corrected the recent deficiencies at the Greeneville station by Dec. 7 of last year.
Asked about the citation and whether Pilot might have received favorable treatment the company issued a statement indicating that the long gap in citations was due to the company's diligence.
"Pilot Flying J fuel tanks are inspected regularly nationwide. The company works hard to ensure that our tanks are always in compliance. When that occurs, we address the issue promptly and thoroughly," the company statement said.
The violation notice issue in November of 2010 was for a Pilot facility in Maryville, Blount County. The firm was fined $3,500. 
Pilot is headed by James A. Haslam, the brother of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. Bill Haslam, a former Pilot executive, still has an ownership interest in the company. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Another Pilot Travel Rebate Suit Settled

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

One of only two remaining civil suits against truck stop giant Pilot Flying J,  stemming from a rebate skimming scandal has been settled, but the details are not being made public.
Notice of the dismissal with prejudice was filed by lawyers for HB Logistics in Franklin County Ohio Circuit Court late last week.
The dismissal was the second within a matter of days. A companion suit filed against Pilot by FST Express was also dismissed in the same court.
That leaves only one remaining civil suit against Pilot stemming from allegations that Pilot sales executives deliberately cheated truckers out of promised rebates on diesel fuel purchases.
Settlements with other truckers and the federal government have cost the Knoxville, Tenn. based firm more than $175 million, exclusive of the two recent cases.
Pilot chief executive James A. Haslam was deposed during the litigation, but the testimony of the Cleveland Browns owner was sealed.
Trouble for Pilot became public on tax day in 2013 when IRS and FBI agents conducted a raid on the company offices, seizing thousands of documents.
An affidavit later filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville detailed secretly taped meetings of Pilot sales executives discussing how they targeted less sophisticated truckers who they thought would not notice their rebates were being shaved.
The sole remaining suit was filed by Wright Transportation, an Alabama trucking company. That suit is pending in federal court in Alabama.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Pilot Rebate Civil Suit Settled

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A settlement has been reached in one of the three remaining civil lawsuits stemming from charges that Pilot Travel cheated truckers out of millions of dollars in promised diesel fuel rebates.
A notice of voluntary dismissal of a suit brought against Pilot, the national truck stop chain, by FST Express was filed today in Franklin County Circuit Court in Ohio. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.
The dismissal filing notes that a similar suit filed by HB Logistics remains to be litigated.
Pilot still faces one other suit now pending in federal court in Alabama. That action was brought by Wright Transportation of Mobile and a scheduling conference is slated for later this week.
The settlement of the of the FST suit comes after Pilot reached settlement of a class action suit filed in federal court in Arkansas and a separate settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. The price tag of those two settlements topped $175 million.
Those followed a raid on Pilot's Knoxville, Tenn. headquarters by federal agents on April 15, 2013.
Ten former Pilot executives have entered guilty pleas to charges they participated in a scheme to cheat truckers out of promised rebates. Eight other Pilot executives have entered not guilty pleas and are scheduled for trial in September.
According to an FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn. Pilot sales executives systematically reduced the rebates promised to truckers who they thought would not notice.
In the FST and HB Logistics case, Pilot chief executive James Haslam was forced to undergo a deposition, but the session was held behind closed doors and the transcript was sealed at Cleveland Browns owner's insistence.