Dinn, Hochman & Potter, LLC

Pilot Flying J settlement reached with trucking companies

Some businesses in Ohio may be involved in a settlement that Pilot Flying J, which is the biggest diesel retailer in the U.S. with revenue of approximately $30 billion annually, has reached with 5,500 trucking companies. The $84.9 million settlement was recently approved by an Arkansas federal judge. Included in the amount is $14 million for the trucking companies' legal fees.

The settlement was reached at the end of a hearing that lasted only an hour regarding claims that the company had cheated truckers out of rebates. The alleged violations in the lawsuit included fraud, breach of contract, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment, and various other claims. According to an attorney for the truckers, much of the settlement has already been paid out, and none of the plaintiffs filed any formal objection to the proposal before it was approved.

The owner of the Cleveland Browns and his brother, the governor of Tennessee, own the massive truck stop chain. Both brothers disavow any knowledge of the scheme. Attorneys for the trucking companies have stated that the owners have been forthcoming and helpful in reaching the settlement.

A federal investigation into certain employees of the company is ongoing, with guilty pleas having already been entered by some. According to court documents, prosecutors alleged that there were company training sessions at Pilot Flying J for the purpose of teaching the employees the ins and outs of defrauding truckers and avoiding getting caught. In this case, attorneys for the plaintiffs said that the company's owners did the right thing and were quite cooperative. However, that is not always the case in business litigation.

Source: Yahoo News, "Judge OKs $84.9M payout in truck stop scandal", Chuck Bartels, November 25, 2013

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