By Walter F. Roche Jr. / The Tennessean
Attorneys for Pilot Flying J and trucking companies that claim to be
victims of a rebate skimming scam by the national truck-stop firm are
seeking to have nearly a dozen cases consolidated in a single court in
Cleveland; Jackson, Miss.; or Nashville.
motions for consolidation of 11 active civil suits filed in federal
courts across the country were filed recently even as a criminal probe
of Pilot continues. The federal probe has already netted guilty pleas
from five Pilot sales employees.
guilty pleas came after an April 15 raid on Pilot's Knoxville
headquarters and the subsequent public filing of a 122-page affidavit
and FBI agent detailing a widespread scheme to secretly cut promised
rebates to trucking firms the sales executives didn't think would
In a suit
pending in Florida, Charles Beal, the attorney for Pilot, noted that all
the suits contain "near exact reproductions of the same allegations."
agrees that transfer and consolidation is appropriate," the motion
states, adding that such an action would "avoid duplicative
Pilot's lawyers have asked that the
individual pending cases be put on hold until a special judicial panel
meets on July 25 to consider the various consolidation motions.
motion notes that all the suits are based on the FBI affidavit which
includes partial transcripts of secretly taped meetings of Pilot
executives in which they discussed the scheme to reduce the rebates.
to comment on the consolidation motion, Pilot spokesman Tom Ingram said
in an email, "As we have said from the beginning, civil suits are
expected in matters like this; we will defend them appropriately; any
current activity related to the suits is part of that defense."
CEO James A. Haslam has denied any knowledge of the rebate skimming
scheme and has vowed to reimburse truckers with interest for any losses
In a suit filed in Ohio, lawyers for Ohio
Auto Delivery cited the similarity of the claims in all the cases and
argued that consolidation "will promote the just and efficient conduct
of the actions, as well as further the convenience of the parties and
witnesses, by eliminating duplicative discovery and the potential for
One suit was filed against Pilot in
U.S. District Court in Nashville. The suit was filed on behalf of Paul
Otto, a Nebraska trucker who has charged that he was one of the victims
of the rebate scheme.
The consolidation motion does not
immediately affect suits filed in state courts, including one filed in
circuit court in Knoxville by a Georgia trucking firm.
suit against Pilot filed in federal court in Alabama by Charles E.
Winborn and W.T.W. Enterprises was voluntarily dismissed early this
June 18 -- Pilot fraud victim wants prison for sales director
June 18 -- Three additional Pilot Flying J employees plead guilty
June 11 -- Ala. lawsuit added to growing list against Pilot Flying J
June 3 -- Former Morehouse trucker sues Pilot Flying J
May 31 -- Ohio firm files suit charging fraud by Pilot Flying J
May 29 -- Pilot sales execs plead guilty in 'indefensible' fraud case
May 24 -- Mississippi company files class action lawsuit
April 29 -- Judge denies motion to keep Pilot Flying J from contacting customers
April 27 -- Omaha truck line discusses alleged Pilot rebate ripoff in-depth
April 26 -- More lawsuits filed against Pilot Flying J
April 22 -- Pilot Flying J puts managers on leave, takes steps to repair relationships
April 21 -- GA trucking company files lawsuit against Pilot Flying J
April 19 -- Search warrants: Haslam knew about scheme to defraud customers
April 19 -- Haslam: Not stepping down because 'I haven't done anything wrong'
April 18 -- Affidavit for search warrant (pdf-- 120 pages)
April 17 -- Pilot Flying J releases more details about what's inside the warrants
April 16 -- Jimmy Haslam addresses Pilot Flying J investigation
April 16 -- FBI, IRS still mum on Pilot Flying J raid