$84.9 million settlement in Jimmy Haslam's Pilot Flying J scandal awaits court approval Monday
Fuel rebates owed to trucking companies
Ron Regan, newsnet5.com
4:57 AM, Nov 25, 2013
9:16 AM, Nov 25, 2013
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - An $84.9 million settlement deal involving Jimmy Haslam's Pilot Flying J Travel Centers and thousands of trucking companies is scheduled for final approval Monday in federal court.
A tentative settlement was reached in July between Haslam's Knoxville-based company and truckers who claim they were cheated of promised fuel rebates.
An FBI raid in April triggered an ongoing federal investigation and resulted in seven former Pilot employees pleading guilty to fraud-related charges.
Since then, 30 trucking companies across the country have filed class action complaints in federal and state courts.
Monday's settlement hearing in U.S. District Court for Eastern Arkansas in Little Rock could grant final approval to the deal that totals $84.9 million.
The settlement deal includes $66.2 million to be repaid in fuel rebates with 6% interest, plus $14 million in attorney fees and $4.5 million for costs associated with auditing trucking company accounts.
In court documents, Pilot estimates there are 2,485 trucking company accounts that had "discrepancies" in the amount of fuel rebates they were promised.
In addition, Pilot identifies 59 "individual entities" or roughly 150 accounts that have opted-out of the settlement deal and retain the right to continue to sue in court for damages.
In court documents, Pilot argues trucking companies will "receive more than what they are owed and do not have to wait for a lengthy litigation process to receive their compensation."
Pilot also warns truckers of what it calls "substantial risks" they would face if "forced to litigate this class action through trial."
Attorneys for Pilot argue "several key facts cast significant doubt" on whether trucking companies could win if they choose to continue to sue in court.
If approved Monday, trucking companies that are owed fuel rebates can expect a check within 30 days of their payment being finally calculated.
So far, 20 of the 30 trucking companies that have already filed lawsuits have opted-out of the settlement and are continuing to sue.
Monday's proposed settlement does not effect the ongoing criminal probe.