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Customer lawsuits against Pilot Flying J up to 18

Pilot Getty Images

It’s a holiday week, but the litigation machine never sleeps.  Especially when liability is pretty clear.

According to Alison Grant of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, two more lawsuits alleging fuel rebate fraud were filed Wednesday against Pilot Flying J, the company run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

One company, R&R Transportation of Minnesota, contends it received a letter on July 1 from Pilot Flying J, citing a “potential discrepancy” for the trucking company that buys roughly 140,000 gallons of fuel per month.  A check was enclosed, for an amount not disclosed in the lawsuit.

Haslam previously has promised that Pilot Flying J will settle up with customers for any amounts not properly paid, plus interest.

Another company, Townes Trucking of Coffeeville, Mississippi, sued in federal court in Louisiana, likewise claiming rebate fraud.

Per the Plain Dealer, the new filings expand the total number of customer lawsuits to 18.  Multiple class actions have been filed; if any one of them is certified, all potentially defrauded customers will be joined in a single action, with each customer having the opportunity to sue on its own, if it so chooses.

The total potential liability isn’t known, and for Haslam it’s a less significant worry than the possibility that he’ll be indicted.  Five Pilot Flying J executives have pleaded guilty, and it’s expected that more will do the same.

One said in his plea agreement that “senior management” of the company was aware of the scam.

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36 Responses to “Customer lawsuits against Pilot Flying J up to 18”
  1. swagger52 says: Jul 4, 2013 5:38 PM

    The Browns Clowns belong in the AFC East

  2. thesteelers says: Jul 4, 2013 5:39 PM

    The Browns are leaving Cleveland. It’s probably for the best.

  3. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 4, 2013 5:44 PM

    And what interest rate is he offering? Surely he’s going to match the internal rate of return that those customers would have made off of having that extra money?

  4. 1rockyracoon says: Jul 4, 2013 6:14 PM

    I can’t help but feel bad for Browns fans. Nothing has gone right for them since they got their team back.

  5. ravenmuscle says: Jul 4, 2013 6:33 PM

    Its what the Browns’ fans deserve for not building Art Modell a new stadium and running him out of town.

  6. harrisonhits2 says: Jul 4, 2013 7:02 PM

    Whatever amount Flying Screw Job gave up is likely no more than 5-10 % of what they actually owe the company. They know very well if they are forced into court by these companies they’ll also have to pay damages and any punitive amounts tacked on.

  7. nobreak1269 says: Jul 4, 2013 7:09 PM

    The Browns should move to Los Angeles.

  8. camdenyard says: Jul 4, 2013 7:10 PM

    Poor poor Clowns. The Curse continues.

  9. kwjsb says: Jul 4, 2013 7:32 PM

    @ravenmuscle
    First things first, Art was offered a domed stadium as part of the gateway project, but he would lose the rent he was getting from the Indians Art said no, all he wanted was renovations to Memorial stadium.
    Secondly, Art was on the expansion committee that selected Carolina & Jacksonville, where Baltimore nade a proposal, Art saw the money pushed the franchise to a city that couldn’t possibly support a franchise knowing he could move to a great football city and not only get the upfront money, but have Redskin fans such as my brother in-law living in Maryland purchase any unsold tickets.
    Your Saint Art was broke paying players on his discover card and new in September he was leaving and announced in October before the vote which the public approved a new stadium on the lake shore. If it were not for Biscotti your Ravens would be in L.A. because Art was going under no matter where he went. He was a great guy, but poor businessman.

  10. apkyletexas says: Jul 4, 2013 7:34 PM

    I don’t know if Baltimore has room for another team.

  11. pitpenguinsrulez says: Jul 4, 2013 8:05 PM

    Haha the Cleveland Clowns what a joke! Go Steelers!

  12. smither871 says: Jul 4, 2013 8:14 PM

    You gotta love ignorant Ravens fan talking like he has any clue what Modell did. Let me educate you with some REAL facts.

    1. Modell was offered a new stadium

    2. He ripped off the Indians for years, which is why the Indians wanted out of their lease with Modell. Modell pocketed all of their luxury box revenue.

    3. He didn’t feel he needed the Indians to survive, but he was too crappy a business to realize that even with a sold out Municipal Stadium, he couldn’t make it without 81 home dates from the Indians.

    4. He was such a crappy business he used credit cards and high interest loans to pay salaries, even though he paid $1 a year to “rent” the stadium.

    How quickly former Colts fans forget that your team was moved and you were pissed, yet it was OK that the same happened to the city of Cleveland, a fan base that has sold out that stadium year in and year out.

  13. ravensbob says: Jul 4, 2013 8:22 PM

    Mayor white and the powers that be we’re responsible for losing the browns even though Modell certainly kept his options open rather than helping a city that truly deserved another team-Baltimore. Schaffer, hyman pressman and the other idiots in Baltimore were responsible for the colts leaving even though the drunken idiot had plans to move the team from the time he traded the rams for them.

    Reality is that Cleveland never deserved another team.

  14. granadafan says: Jul 4, 2013 9:25 PM

    I wouldn’t be surprised if some ex-football players jumped on the bandwagon and joined this lawsuit.

  15. officialgame says: Jul 4, 2013 9:27 PM

    Somehow I have a feeling that Joey “Skates” Banner will end up forming a new ownership group that will buy the Browns from Haslam who is going down.

  16. msclemons67 says: Jul 4, 2013 9:37 PM

    Let the record show, when all of these crimes were happening Haslam was a member of the Steelers.

    Just saying.

  17. ravenmuscle says: Jul 4, 2013 9:39 PM

    @kwjsb AND @smither871…bwaahaahaahaahaahaa

    We have the greatest team in the NFL while Cleveland has the WORST team in the NFL….and that will NEVER change.

    Keep drafting the Tim Couch’s of the NFL and signing the LeCharles Bentley’s of free agency.

    LOSERS

    See you at OUR HOUSE for our home opener….you will be DESTROYED.

  18. nomoreseasontix says: Jul 4, 2013 10:22 PM

    The games that rich guys play…

  19. tribefever says: Jul 4, 2013 10:46 PM

    The reality is that bobraven is incapable of a coherent thought. Bob apparently is unfamiliar with the term eminent domain which is the reason the colts moved.

  20. smither871 says: Jul 4, 2013 11:02 PM

    Another Ravens fan, wrong again. Get your facts straight!!!!

  21. jackblackshairyback says: Jul 5, 2013 2:55 AM

    smither871 says:
    Jul 4, 2013 8:14 PM
    You gotta love ignorant Ravens fan talking like he has any clue what Modell did. Let me educate you with some REAL facts.

    1. Modell was offered a new stadium

    2. He ripped off the Indians for years, which is why the Indians wanted out of their lease with Modell. Modell pocketed all of their luxury box revenue.

    3. He didn’t feel he needed the Indians to survive, but he was too crappy a business to realize that even with a sold out Municipal Stadium, he couldn’t make it without 81 home dates from the Indians.

    4. He was such a crappy business he used credit cards and high interest loans to pay salaries, even though he paid $1 a year to “rent” the stadium.

    How quickly former Colts fans forget that your team was moved and you were pissed, yet it was OK that the same happened to the city of Cleveland, a fan base that has sold out that stadium year in and year out.

    ——————————————————–

    Don’t forget that even AFTER his sweetheart deal in Baltimore, he STILL couldn’t operate his team without losing money.

    All you Baltimorons can drink your revisionist Kool Aid all you want, but WE know the truth.

  22. jshart1090 says: Jul 5, 2013 3:43 AM

    Cleveland didn’t deserve another team, lol. The most faithful and loyal fanbase in the country. Right…..

  23. camdenyard says: Jul 5, 2013 6:49 AM

    I fail to understand why the Cleveland people feel compelled to recite their view of the Move at every opportunity.

    It’s over. You got your team back in 1999. Sorry you have had rotten luck, rotten players, clueless owners and rotten front offices, but them’s the breaks. And you know that Jimmy’s going to be indicted soon, don’t you.

    Tell me how minor league football looks though.

  24. dumbhobby says: Jul 5, 2013 8:06 AM

    Obviously, holding back a rebate on purpose would be wrong. But where are the accountants on the trucking side of this? One or two slow rebates should have triggered a call to the supplier. Not exactly on top of their books.

  25. hedleykow says: Jul 5, 2013 8:46 AM

    In 2012 alone, Pilot Flying J had over $29 billion in revenue. Investigation findings show that the rebate fraud had been going on for several years, and when customers complained about discrepancies in the discount or rebate they received, Pilot Flying J employees would often blame accounting errors or computer malfunctions for the inconsistency.

    It will be interesting to find out how the dirty money was treated on the company’s balance sheets. My guess is that there was no special treatment, since the accounting only needed to match up with the rebates or discounts that were actually given. The implicated managers probably just used the scam to pad their numbers (resulting in an extra donut for their trouble each Monday morning when they met with the boss).

    And isn’t that how it usually works? You get a free donut for your trouble, while the boss gets a private jet and an NFL franchise (for your trouble).

  26. charger383 says: Jul 5, 2013 8:59 AM

    Pilot/Flying J is sponsoring the 43 racecar now?
    More bad luck for Richard Petty

  27. padraighansen says: Jul 5, 2013 10:10 AM

    @hedley

    You are dead-on. Furthermore, there is no doubt in my mind – having once worked in this industry early in my professional career and hired several Flying J executives – that Jimmy Haslam is a smart, well-informed, almost micro-manager, executive. Anyone who buys his “Gomer” act of being in the dark….well, I’ve got some ocean front property in Nebraska to sell you.

  28. jackblackshairyback says: Jul 5, 2013 12:12 PM

    amdenyard says:
    Jul 5, 2013 6:49 AM
    I fail to understand why the Cleveland people feel compelled to recite their view of the Move at every opportunity.

    It’s over. You got your team back in 1999. Sorry you have had rotten luck, rotten players, clueless owners and rotten front offices, but them’s the breaks. And you know that Jimmy’s going to be indicted soon, don’t you.

    Tell me how minor league football looks though.
    —————————————-

    It was a Ravens fan that brought it up numbskull.

  29. jackblackshairyback says: Jul 5, 2013 12:28 PM

    It will be interesting to find out how the dirty money was treated on the company’s balance sheets. My guess is that there was no special treatment, since the accounting only needed to match up with the rebates or discounts that were actually given. The implicated managers probably just used the scam to pad their numbers (resulting in an extra donut for their trouble each Monday morning when they met with the boss).
    ————————————-

    According to the affidavit and statements from the feds since the raid, it sounds like some lower levelers did keep separate sets of records. One kept a hidden file on his computer, another kept it written down on a piece of paper in her desk.

    That doesn’t prove what Haslam knew or didn’t know either way. I just thought I’d help clear up what the feds are saying.

  30. jackblackshairyback says: Jul 5, 2013 12:37 PM

    dumbhobby says:
    Jul 5, 2013 8:06 AM
    Obviously, holding back a rebate on purpose would be wrong. But where are the accountants on the trucking side of this? One or two slow rebates should have triggered a call to the supplier. Not exactly on top of their books—————————-

    The rebate system was/is fairly complex. Many of these trucks were driving through quite a few states, which means they would have to refuel several times. Different stations would charge different prices for their diesel, something you could compare to the price of gas at the station around the corner from you is likely different from a station 10 or 15 miles away, even though they might both be Speedway, for example.

  31. hedleykow says: Jul 5, 2013 12:54 PM

    ———————————————————-
    jackblackshairyback says:
    According to the affidavit and statements from the feds since the raid, it sounds like some lower levelers did keep separate sets of records. One kept a hidden file on his computer, another kept it written down on a piece of paper in her desk.
    ———————————————————–

    Ok … so two people made physical notes pertaining to the scam … but that still doesn’t suggest in any way that any money was skimmed away from the company.

  32. leeentleryahoocom says: Jul 5, 2013 1:15 PM

    Nobody knows anything yet

    Stop talking about that Which you know nothing.
    GO BROWNS!!!!!!

  33. iamthefootballjerk says: Jul 5, 2013 1:26 PM

    To Cleveland Fans, don’t let a few Baltimorons spoil the rest of us. Most of us felt terrible doing to you, what was done to us. We know how it went down, and were glad that the Browns got to keep their records AND get a team back. Both situations were a shame, and I mostly blame Saint Tagliabue. I hope he never sniffs the HOF.

  34. brownstain says: Jul 5, 2013 1:43 PM

    “The Browns are leaving Cleveland. It’s probably for the best.”

    Give that up. Posters love to say that on this site but Cleveland is one of the League’s best markets because the fans always show up. The team may suck but it makes money, which is the bottom line in the NFL.

  35. jackblackshairyback says: Jul 5, 2013 2:09 PM

    hedleykow says:
    Jul 5, 2013 12:54 PM
    ———————————————————-
    jackblackshairyback says:
    According to the affidavit and statements from the feds since the raid, it sounds like some lower levelers did keep separate sets of records. One kept a hidden file on his computer, another kept it written down on a piece of paper in her desk.
    ———————————————————–

    Ok … so two people made physical notes pertaining to the scam … but that still doesn’t suggest in any way that any money was skimmed away from the company.

    —————————————–

    No one is accused of skimming money from PFJ, they are accused of scamming customers/trucking companies. In fact, at least one that has pleaded guilty said he participated in the scam in order to make more money for the company(and to boost his commissions, no doubt).

  36. oldcracker says: Jul 5, 2013 2:54 PM

    When I grew up in Ohio, during the 50’s & 60’s, my brothers and I often worked at the various gas stations in our area. I worked at one along I-71, and another along US 224/I-80 (at that time). Each station I worked at offered truckers a discount program. Depending on which program the driver/company signed up for, they were issued a card with a serial number on it. The discount, upon presentation of the card, was given at the time of purchase. Clean & simple.

    Today, I’m retired Army, a farmer, and the owner/operator of a several long-haul rigs. Usually, I’m the only driver with either my son or some “temp help” (contract labor) used on rare occassions.

    My wife is a cashier for a grocery store and usually maintains my books (business & farm). However, about 3 years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo treatment for almost 2 years. Obviously, during this time she could not keep up with things, and I moved my bookkeeping needs to a small private firm, recommended by my tax account. All I do is turn over my receipts and bills to them for processing and payment, about once a month. All they know is what I turn over to them. If I mislay or lose something, tough luck for me.

    I know I fuel up quite frequently at Jimmy’s various businesses. I really have no clue if I’m entitled to any kind of rebate from him or not. I am simply too small and too busy (with repairs) to account for every nickel and dime I spend on the road.

    Now, if we could only go back to the “good old days” where I would get my discount at the pump, life would be so much simpler….not only for me, but apparently, for Jimmy, too!

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