In a win for Pilot Flying J, a federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied the plaintiffs’ request to consolidate the remaining lawsuits against Pilot Flying J, following arguments last month, Trucking Info reported.
Recently, Pilot Flying J reached a settlement with eight trucking companies that filed suit against it alleging fraud, following a raid on company headquarters by agents from the FBI and IRS. The allegations asserted that the company shortchanged customers out of rebates and discounts stemming from fuel purchases. The settlement has yet to receive initial approval from a federal judge in Arkansas, and a fairness hearing isn’t scheduled until late November.
Meanwhile, plaintiffs who were not part of the settlement had aimed to consolidate the cases before then.
“The Eastern District of Arkansas recently granted preliminary approval of a proposed nationwide class settlement, and final approval of the settlement will be considered in a few months. Centralization at this time could delay settlement proceedings. If plaintiffs who have not yet participated in settlement discussions wish to object of opt out of the proposed settlement, there are suitable mechanisms in place by which they may do so without the need for centralization,” the judges said in their ruling.
Some 20 companies have filed lawsuits against Pilot Flying J following the April 15 raid.
The settlement, if approved, would require Pilot Flying J to repay 100% of what customers are owned going back to 2005, including interest. However, some companies that were not part of the settlement have since complained they did not have the opportunity to take part in it or did not receive enough time to review documents to decide if they agreed to take part, according to Trucking Info.
A total of seven Pilot Flying J employees have pleaded guilty for their roles in the fraud. An estimated 10 employees have been fired, resigned or put on leave since the FBI released 100+ page affidavit to secure search warrants on Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., as well as for the homes of some employees.
Pilot Flying J and CEO Jimmy Haslam have denied allegations of wrongdoing, including in the settlement. Haslam has not been charged. A criminal investigation into the alleged fraud continues.