(Nov. 18, 2013) Lawyers for Pilot Flying J are making a last plea for a federal judge to approve a proposed $72 million settlement of rebate fraud charges contending that none of the victims would be likely to do any better by pursuing protracted litigation on their own.

In a 39-page filing in anticipation of a Nov. 25 fairness hearing in Little Rock, Pilot's lawyers said the proposed settlement was negotiated in two months of arms length negotiations with multiple parties participating.

Cited in the filing are estimated direct rebate payments to truckers of $55 million plus 6 per cent interest, up to $14 million in legal fees and payment by Pilot of auditing and other related costs.

The settlement was proposed in the aftermath of an April 15 federal raid on Pilot's Knoxville headquarters and the subsequent public filing of allegations that Pilot sales executives routinely reduced the diesel fuel rebates truckers had been promised.

In the filing Pilot said that it had complied with all the requirements for a settlement including sending notices to all 5,500 possible victims.

While Pilot's lawyers contend that no formal objections have been filed to the settlement, the proposal has drawn strong criticism in other pending cases filed by some of the nearly 60 firms that have opted out of the agreement.

In one case pending in federal court in Alabama, attorneys for Wright Transportation have charged the Pilot proposal is suspect, noting that the firm that originally filed the Arkansas suit wasn't even formed until after the federal raid.

But Pilot's lawyers contend that under the settlement "those who are entitled to compensation will receive more than what they are owed" and won't have to wait for the result of protracted and expensive litigation.

The filing contends that the plaintiffs face "substantial risk" that the class itself would be subject to challenge during a trial. And the truckers would be unikely to succeed in winning a verdict because only a small fraction of the class was actually the targetted in the rebate scheme.

Later in the same filing, however Pilot's lawyers urge the court to certify the class for purposes of a settlement thus avoiding a complex and costly trial.

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