(WBIR- Knoxville) A Georgia attorney who is representing several trucking companies in a suit that is seeking class action status against Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J said the case is getting some high-profile help.
Mark Tate confirmed to 10News that former FBI director and former federal judge Louis Freeh's firm, the Freeh Group, has agreed to work with the trucking companies who believe they were cheated in an alleged rebate scam.
Tate said the Freeh Group has a large group of investigators and accountants who will help the trucking companies make their case.
Tate said they face a big burden in their lawsuit and they are thrilled to have help fighting what he called C.E.O. Jimmy Haslam's "billionaire's antics."
When contacted about the Pilot Flying J investigation, a spokesperson for the Freeh Group said, "We have no comment."
Duncan School of Law Asst. Professor, Matt Lyon, said the hire takes the case to another level.
"Obviously it's going to raise the profile of lawsuit significantly that you have someone of that stature involved, a national name that everyone knows," Lyon said. "I'm sure one reason they've hired Mr. Freeh and his consulting firm is that idea, 'let's do an investigation and see what we can find out maybe that the government didn't find out."
Late last month, a judge in Knoxville denied Tate's request for a temporary restraining order to keep Pilot Flying J from contacting customers.
The attorney claimed that Jimmy Haslam was contacting the companies, getting releases from them, and settling claims before companies knew about the full extent of the allegations.
Pilot attorneys argued that the truck stop company was trying to make things right and denied asking customers to sign a release.
Tate also claimed that a full-page newspaper ad placed Sunday in support of the Haslam family was "engineered" by Jimmy Haslam. "He ran that ad as a warning, as he's in the largest fight of his professional career," Tate said.
But Randy Massey, who purchased the ad, said it was his idea.
"It's just a point of appreciation. It's nothing more except trying to say to the Haslam's, 'Thank you,' for everything you've done for us," Massey said.
Haslam is expected to address trucking industry questions Thursday morning at the Scopelitis Transportation Seminar in Indianapolis.