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Opposition to Pilot Flying J settlement grows


Yes, there’s been a proposed settlement of the one of the nationwide class actions against Pilot Flying J, the chain of truck-stops run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.  But with up to 4,000 trucking companies supposedly encompassed by the deal, there’s a chance that up to 3,999 of them will choose to exercise their right to pass on it.

The settlement would pay each company every dollar that it lost as a result of the customer fraud rebate scam, plus six-percent interest and attorneys’ fees.

A lawyer representing four of the companies has made his clients’ position clear, via a press release forwarded to PFT.

“Pilot rebate fraud occurred on top of the toughest of economic times for the trucking industry,” the release for Drew McElroy of Knoxville states.  “Because of this, it is understandable that some trucking companies will accept these terms simply because of the economic pressure.

“However, in a case where absolutely no discovery has been conducted, it is hard to reasonably evaluate any proposed settlement.  It is also hard to comprehend how breaking even with a company who has perpetrated fraud is a good deal.”

McElroy’s release comes at a time when the proposed deal has received praise and generated much-needed positive P.R. for Pilot Flying J.  But McElroy sees it differently, calling it a “sad commentary on class action litigation when pundits declare it a good deal to break even with thieves.”

Though the trucking companies shouldn’t unfairly profit from the settlement, allowing Pilot Flying J to pay back the money it should have paid in the first place isn’t the best way to ensure that these kinds of activities will be abandoned by unscrupulous corporations.

McElroy point out that the estimated payout of $35 million represents less than 11 hours of Pilot revenues.  To discourage Pilot and others from engaging in similar misconduct in the future, much greater liability will be needed.

Of course, the five Pilot Flying J executives (and likely counting) who have faced criminal liability likely would say that the message has been received, loud and clear.

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29 Responses to “Opposition to Pilot Flying J settlement grows”
  1. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 18, 2013 1:11 PM

    Not only that, but if I’m a plaintiff I want additional money on top of my initial request money to make up for the insult offer. They just dug a bigger hole, so I’d be raising my breakeven point of where I’m ready to deal, otherwise I’ve got time and money to give these guys a hard time no matter what it takes. Who cares what it costs, there are principles at play here. Plus I’d expect to win and take them to the cleaners anyhow; no sweat.

    Don’t settle up people, saddle up and take this mofo out!

  2. christophershearin says: Jul 18, 2013 1:13 PM

    us browns fans are in for a long haul

  3. christophershearin says: Jul 18, 2013 1:17 PM

    @ thestrategyexpert: The problem with your logic is, Pilot Flying J has TONS of money, The plaintiffs here are unsofisticated trucking companies, Read: Small Bank Accounts. If Pilot Flying J wanted, they could string along the litigation for years using every trick their World Class Lawyers can find, ultimately causing the small trucking companies to abandon their litigation or face bankruptsie i am not saying what pilot flying j did was right, but when your are at such a dis-advantage to someone with that much money and power, your best bet is to take what they give you, because as they say, if you play with fire, your going to get burned

  4. getyourownname says: Jul 18, 2013 1:18 PM

    “However, in a case where absolutely no discovery has been conducted, it is hard to reasonably evaluate any proposed settlement. It is also hard to comprehend how breaking even with a company who has perpetrated fraud is a good deal.”


    “Sure, my client would be made whole, plus interest, which is what they recoup anyway if they won, and without having to worry about whether they eventually win the case or spending years worrying about it, and having to reimburse our out of pocket lawyer expenses, but the lawyer fee reimbursement isn’t worth it until we lawyers have had a chance to run up our fees, such as by issuing press releases.”

  5. floratiotime says: Jul 18, 2013 1:23 PM

    This is America … rich people don’t go in the military and they don’t go to jail.

  6. germanstingray says: Jul 18, 2013 1:23 PM

    In the minds of some, the only way to prevent this in the future would be to crush the company with gigantic legal bills, putting its’ employees on the street looking for work, and assess monstrous punitive damage awards, a large percentage of which would wind up in the pockets of the plaintiffs’ attorneys. That’s their vision of justice, and it is a system that assures that the attorneys on both sides always win.

  7. vibesid says: Jul 18, 2013 1:24 PM

    This was a pathetic attempt to get off cheap. But it seems like they are admitting they are guilty.

  8. beerjunkie says: Jul 18, 2013 1:28 PM

    He should rename the team after himself. The Cleveland Brown Eyes.

  9. areyoudue says: Jul 18, 2013 1:38 PM

    Training camp can’t get here soon enough…

  10. karlton3 says: Jul 18, 2013 1:42 PM

    In my state, there are statutory damages for fraud / theft in the amount of treble damages plus fees and costs.

  11. zn0rseman says: Jul 18, 2013 1:47 PM


    The lawyers didn’t get a big enough cut so they are encouraging their client to do what is not in their clients best interest so that the lawyers can get more money.

  12. ken0west says: Jul 18, 2013 2:00 PM

    I am surprised some non binding arbitration clause we all unknowingly enter ever day did not prevent a lawsuit in the first place.

  13. davemishsr says: Jul 18, 2013 2:04 PM

    While it is easy to blame the lawyers for this what about Flying J? I love how people will say, “it’s all the lawyer’s fault”. Well what about Flying J folks? The illegally defrauded the trucking industry out of billions of dollars not only knowingly but maliciously. I have no problem with awarding a sum large enough to drive them into insolvency. maybe the GOP will make them prepay their retirement benefits as they do the Postal Service but I am not holding my breath. Oh I hate the Dems too.

  14. notoriousjebus says: Jul 18, 2013 2:10 PM

    Everything you should have got, plus interest and legal fees, what a terrible deal. Just getting what you should have got isn’t nearly good enough, billions of dollars in punitive damages should be levied against Pilot Flying J.

  15. spellingcops says: Jul 18, 2013 2:27 PM

    bankruptsie I tried so hard to ignore this. I couldn’t.

  16. yooperman says: Jul 18, 2013 2:31 PM

    So is this is how it works for the rich? I rob you, if I get caught, I give back what I stole and we are even. Next time a trucker fills up at the Flying F stops, drive off without paying, if they catch you just offer to pay. See how that works out.

  17. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 18, 2013 2:33 PM


    Good point, but this article already mentions how some are naturally inclined to deal due to economic concerns. I don’t have the books for these companies and I’m not making the decision for them. My sentiment holds true with logic for any companies of which that concern doesn’t apply, and they are the ones who know if that applies to them and they can exercise their right to pursue the matter further for a better deal. That all goes without saying though.

    My comment serves as suggestion and inspiration for those that might be on the fence where the decision is a close one, and I’m trying to encourage them to fight if they are capable of fighting and granted not everybody might be able to. If not then that’s ok as it’s their decision, it’s whatever is best for themselves at this time.

  18. germanstingray says: Jul 18, 2013 2:34 PM


    How do you know so much about how much wasn’t paid? Florio loves stirring the pot on issues like this, especially when there isn’t any real football news. Although many insinuations have been made about what Haslam may or may not have known or done, no wrongdoing by him has yet been proven.

    What really is disgusting is the assumption my many that Jimmy Haslam must be guilty of something simply because he is a wealthy, successful business owner. Jealousy and socialism rule the day!

  19. vegasdogg says: Jul 18, 2013 2:35 PM

    Just like Facebook, we now have a growing number of people in this nation who suddenly became lawyers last night.

  20. chmba says: Jul 18, 2013 2:49 PM

    1. This is a good deal for the lawyers looking for a quick buck with little work.
    2. Most Proven civil fraud cases incur punitive damages which Pilot Flying J is avoiding with this settlement.
    3. Time could be important; if Haslam indicted for fraud he may be able to avoid being deposed until after any criminal trial. Case probably worth more if CEO proven aware of fraud but time works against those victims without deeper pockets and this fraud targeted the weak!
    4. Flying J was a separate company until they got in financial trouble in other areas and Pilot was able to acquire them in the Chapter 11 reorganization, which is of course decreasing competition in the truck stop business and increasing prices.
    5. Pilot always seemed to have higher prices than Flying J….see #4 above…for individual customers.
    6. Victims who can hold out should probably opt out and wait.

  21. zn0rseman says: Jul 18, 2013 3:02 PM

    Lawyer davemishsr says:

    While it is easy to blame the lawyers for this what about Flying J? I love how people will say, “it’s all the lawyer’s fault”. Well what about Flying J folks? The illegally defrauded the trucking industry out of billions of dollars not only knowingly but maliciously. I have no problem with awarding a sum large enough to drive them into insolvency.

    Option 1: All impacted customers get their money back, plus interest and attorney fees. Pilot suffers a major credibility hit but continues operations as one of the best truck stops in the nation. The lawyers collect their outrageous hourly fees but bothing more.

    Option 2: Lawyers pretend to fight for truth, justice and the American way say “No!” to option 1. Someone must be punished afterall, and the lawyers need their cut for their part in administering justice. Hundreds of millions in punitive damages are awarded. Ownership of Pilot files for bankruptcy, protecting the owner from any personal loss. Every Pilot station in America shuts down. Thousands of people lose their jobs. Lawyers collect most of the money while their clients get their money back, plus interest and attorney fees. The lawyers meanwhile buy yachts, foreign sports cars, and the golf memberships they’ve always wanted while everyone else suffers.

    Sound about right?

  22. footballchic777 says: Jul 18, 2013 3:24 PM


    I think I agree with his you said it.

  23. drgreenstreak says: Jul 18, 2013 6:12 PM

    Haslam is in the middle of CYA mode. He is desperate because the axe is beginning to fall. He is an example of what Republicans are constantly try to protect, ie; Corporations who buy their representatives and pay for their election. Haslam is deep into Republican legislators and I believe this is extremely concerning to him. Most certainly, it is of great concern to his brother and all the legislative cronies who paid for his thieving ways.
    There is more to come in this story that will expose some fine Christian Republicans that hardworking folks have supported and now realize they’ve been duped. People hate admitting they’ve been fleeced by their heroes.

  24. germanstingray says: Jul 18, 2013 6:49 PM


    When did this become a political issue? You’re an utter fool if you think that both major political parties don’t dole out favors to their cronies and political supporters. You obviously have a political bias.

    You might consider honing you grammar. Your grammatical errors, e.g., gratuitous capitalization,unnecessary semicolon, and incorrect use of “ie” (sic) expose your lack of education and poor command of the English language.

  25. listenupcupcake says: Jul 18, 2013 7:05 PM

    Lawyas bein hos n sheet. Canna mak no beeg bux wit wuts jus fare. Sheet. Gots ta get dem punis. Woooooha! Yeah!

  26. germanstingray says: Jul 18, 2013 7:12 PM

    You have a great point there cupcake!

  27. mackcarrington says: Jul 18, 2013 8:14 PM

    I spent all week at a Holiday Inn Express and I still cant figure this out!

  28. boyshole25 says: Jul 18, 2013 8:34 PM

    Who are the thieves here

  29. jfinn5 says: Jul 19, 2013 3:26 AM

    Players are getting arrested and an owner is on trial. This is a huge problem but Goodell is trying to expand to Europe. That’s the answer.

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