Former Morehouse trucker sues Pilot Flying J

7:10 PM, Jun 3, 2013   |    comments
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(Knoxville - WBIR)  A former independent truck owner and operator for Omaha-based Morehouse Trucking has now joined a growing list of litigation against Pilot Flying J for rebate fraud.

Paul Otto filed the lawsuit in federal court on Friday in the Tennessee Middle District.  The lawsuit requests class-action status and does not seek a specific amount of monetary damages.

Morehouse Trucking was named in the initial affidavits after the FBI and IRS raided Pilot's headquarters on April 15 in Knoxville.

In April, 10News traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, and spoke at length about the rebate scheme that potentially defrauded Morehouse of more than $140,000.

Morehouse Trucking owner Curt Morehouse indicated Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam had reimbursed him the money owed and said the company has no plans to sue.

On Monday afternoon, 10News contacted Curt Morehouse regarding the suit filed by Paul Otto.  Morehouse stated, "Your phone call is the first I've heard of this."

Morehouse said Otto was an owner and operator who quit several months ago.  Morehouse Trucking itself has not filed any lawsuit against Pilot Flying J.

"We have no involvement with this whatsoever. Mr. Otto was an owner/operator driver for us and ended his contract with us on 2/6/13," wrote Morehouse.

Curt Morehouse also queried Otto's fuel purchases and is unsure whether the independent trucker purchased enough gas on his own to qualify for any of Pilot's rebates.

Morehouse wrote, "... all fuel deals are started when a customer gets to a certain volume level. On his own, Mr. Otto didn't qualify for any discounts, so I don't think he even has standing to sue."

Pilot Flying J now faces lawsuits in federal districts across more than six states.

The company now faces federal lawsuits in Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois and Arkansas. A Georgia trucking company, joined by at least three others so far, has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit in Knox County Circuit Court. Mark Tate, attorney for Savannah, Ga.,-based Atlantic Coast Carriers, has hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to assist with that lawsuit.

Last week two Pilot Flying J employees pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.  According to court documents, Arnold Ralenkotter, who was a regional sales director in Pilot's direct sales division, and Ashley Judd, who was a regional account executive, have admitted to intentionally reducing rebates owed to some of Pilot's commercial customers over the course of several years.

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