The number of trucking companies opting out of a proposed settlement of a class action law suit against Pilot Flying J has nearly doubled to about 90, according to an attorney for the company.
Nashville attorney Aubrey Harwell, who represents the Knoxville-based nationwide truck stop firm, said on Friday that an exact number was not available because opt-out notices were still being processed. Earlier this Harwell said week about 50 firms had decided to reject the proposed settlement.
Pilot is facing dozens of suits in the wake of a federal investigation into charges that the firm systematically reduced rebates promised to trucking firms. The probe became public on April 15 when federal agents raided the company headquarters.
A 120-page affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville following the raid detailed the allegations and included transcripts of secretly recorded meetings of Pilot sales executives discussing the scheme to reduce rebates on customers who they thought would not notice the discrepancies.
The proposed settlement, with a price tag of $40 million plus attorneys fees, would repay the truckers the amount owed plus interest. A fairness hearing on the proposal will be held Nov. 25 in federal court Little Rock, Ark.
Seven Pilot sales staffers already have entered guilty pleas to mail and wire fraud charges as a result of the investigation.
In a hearing in Knoxville Friday in one of the civil suits pending against Pilot, a judge gave both sides until Nov. 18 to produce records of transactions between the two companies.
Drew McElroy, the attorney for one of the companies suing Pilot, said the number of firms opting out could go higher since the firms doing so had until earlier this week to put their filings in the mail