(Nov. 15, 2013) Lawyers for one of the trucking firms suing Pilot Flying J over unpaid rebates has filed a motion in circuit court asking a judge to bar Pilot's lawyers or officers from communicating directly with their client.
The motion filed in Knoxville cites a series of seemingly contradictory letters from a Pilot official to a Georgia trucking firm, Harold David Story Inc.
Among the items cited is a Nov. 6 letter to the Georgia trucking company's president with a $56,204.26 check including only 4 percent interest, 2 percent less than Pilot has promised in a pending class action suit in Arkansas.
"It is therefore apparent that Pilot is intentionally continuing to skim from its customers and is now offering less compensation than it previously agreed," the motion states.
Aubrey Harwell, one of Pilot's attorneys, said the 4 percent payment was based on Pilot's original offer, but the amount was later boosted to 6 percent in settlement negotiations.
He said once the settlement is formally approved, those companies paid 4 percent, will get the additional 2 percent.
The motion is the latest development in the aftermath of an April 15 raid by federal agents on Pilot's Knoxville headquarters.
An FBI affidavit filed shortly after the raid, detailed allegations of a widespread scheme by Pilot sales executives to secretly reduce rebates that had been promised to truckers. Seven of the truckstop firm executives have subsequently entered guilty pleas to mail and wire fraud charges and await sentencing.
Pilot CEO James Haslam has denied any knowledge of the scheme.
The motion filed by Atlanta attorney Mark Tate and Knoxville attorney Drew McElroy of Knoxville charges that Pilot's tactics orchestrated by "a virtual army of lawyers" are an effort to side-step legal and ethical requirements.
Adding to the confusion, McElroy said was yet another from Pilot to the same company stating that the Georgia firm was not owed anything.
A hearing on the proposed $72 million settlement is scheduled to be heard Nov. 25 in Little Rock.