Settlement Reached in Pilot Flying J Suit
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A settlement was reached Tuesday in the lawsuit that accused Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s company of rebate fraud.
A judge in Eastern Division Court in Arkansas orally granted a joint motion for a class action settlement in the case and a written order was expected to be filed soon.
Twenty-one trucking companies alleged Haslam’s company, Flying Pilot J, did not pay fuel rebates for a number of years.
Haslam was never charged with any crime and he and the company are not admitting guilt.
Federal agents raided company headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee, in April as they concluded an investigation that began in May 2011.
The suit came after federal documents were unsealed that indicated Haslam knew that Pilot Flying J was engaging in fraudulent practices.
“Candidly … I haven’t done anything wrong … and if there was ever a time the company needed leadership, it is now,” said Haslam on April 19.
A letter dated July 12 stated that Haslam and Pilot Flying J are working hard to regain customers trust.
The letter stated that the company’s internal field audit team reviewed the manual diesel program.
Any accounts which had a discrepancy in the customer’s favor received a check for the discrepancies, plus interest. The letter did not state how many checks were issued.
“We have invited all manual diesel rebate customers to discuss or verify our findings,” Haslam’s letter stated. “It is important to note that there were numerous manual diesel rebate accounts that had a zero balance and even some accounts that owed money to Pilot Flying J.”
The company has also placed three diesel fuel sales team members on administrative leave and, in addition, six members have resigned or were terminated.
Pilot Flying J also hired four new members to the sales team.
The company also eliminated the manual diesel rebates and installed systems and controls, and are continuing to audit all customer accounts.
“We are taking aggressive measures to restore, preserve and protect our customer relationships,” Haslam said.
A federal criminal probe continues into the alleged fraud and five Pilot employees have pleaded guilty so far.
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