Pilot Flying J Settles Trucker Suits Over Diesel Rebates

Pilot Flying J Inc., an operator of truck stops across the U.S., will settle lawsuits over an alleged fraudulent diesel-fuel rebate scheme, according to the plaintiff’s lawyers and federal court documents.

Plaintiffs including trucker Paul Otto sued company parent Pilot Corp. contending it withheld “tens of millions of dollars” in rebates since at least 2005, in a May 31 complaint in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee.

The settlement could be more than $26 million, plaintiff’s lawyer John W. (Don) Barrett of Lexington, Mississippi, said in a phone interview.

“Pilot’s commercial customers will get every penny they are owed” because “the settlement provides for independent accountant review and an additional interest payment,” said Elizabeth Alexander, an attorney for Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, the class-action plaintiff’s law firm, in a statement on the law firm’s website.

“We simply don’t know” the total amount yet, said Nashville lawyer Aubrey Harwell III, representing Pilot, in a phone interview. “We’re auditing accounts,” he said. The company wants “to do the right thing and make customers whole.”

Pilot is the largest U.S. seller of over-the-road diesel fuel, with $29 billion in 2012 sales, according to its law firm.

Federal court papers in Little Rock, Arkansas, said more than 4,000 customers may be covered by the settlement.

A fairness hearing to make the settlement final was scheduled by U.S. District Judge James M. Moody for Nov. 25 in Little Rock.

The settlement papers are filed in National Trucking Financial Reclamation Services LLC v. Pilot Corp., 13-cv-00250, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock.) The Tennessee case is Otto v. Pilot Corp., 13-cv-00531, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee (Nashville).

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