Walter F. Roche Jr., The Tennessean
An Alabama firm has filed suit against Pilot Flying J in the wake of a federal investigation into charges that the travel center chain cheated truckers out of promised rebates.
In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Alabama, lawyers for Osborn Transportation of Gadsden accuse Pilot Flying J of breach of contract, unjust enrichment fraud and violations of consumer protection statutes.
The 11-page complaint cites the recent 120-page filing by federal investigators who raided Pilot Flying J's Knoxville headquarters on April 15. The FBI affidavit charges that Pilot salesmen secretly reduced the amount of rebates promised to truckers in order to boost their own commissions and company profits.
Following the raid and the filing of the FBI affidavit, Pilot CEO James A. Haslam, brother of Gov. Bill Haslam, announced that he suspended some sales executives and initiated an internal investigation led by an outside attorney.
Haslam also promised and has begun to reimburse trucking firms for rebates that were improperly reduced.
Other suits have been filed in federal courts in Arkansas and Illinois, with one filed in circuit court in Knoxville.
The Osborn suit charges that Pilot "willfully devised and conspired to devise a scheme to defraud Pilot's customer Osborn by deceptively reducing rebate amounts."
The suit seeks unspecified restitution and punitive damages.