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Effort to force civil testimony of Haslam could help frame debate over fairness of settlement

Jimmy Haslam Getty Images

With more than 20 lawsuits pending against Pilot Flying J, a proposed settlement of one of the class actions won’t necessarily stop the other cases in their tracks.

As some lawyers criticize a deal that would give truck-stop customers defrauded by the company run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam only the money that was kept from them with interest and attorneys’ fees, some lawyers may try to push the litigation in other courts where other lawsuits are pending.

For example, a lawyer in one of the other cases has filed formal notice that Haslam will be compelled to testify under oath.

The paperwork was submitted on July 8, more than a week before a tentative settlement was approved by a federal court in Arkansas. ┬áPilot Flying J’s lawyers undoubtedly will attempt to block the deposition in light of the proposed settlement. ┬áBut the presiding judge could, in theory, decide to allow the deposition to proceed, if the judge believes that the settlement, which has no allowance for punitive damages, seems unfair.

A fight would be sparked in multiple courts at various levels, but it would highlight the question of whether Pilot Flying J should be praised or criticized for its successful effort to strike a deal with a lawyer who was willing to agree to a settlement that pays back only the money that was stolen, plus a little more.

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6 Responses to “Effort to force civil testimony of Haslam could help frame debate over fairness of settlement”
  1. kane337 says: Jul 19, 2013 11:58 AM

    They were stealing money. Someone needs to go to jail.

  2. bigtime1957 says: Jul 19, 2013 12:52 PM

    My first question would be is did you use the stolen money to secure any loans, or use any part of said funds in the purchase of the Cleveland Browns, Because the IRS and FBI should confiscate this Team and embarrass the NFL and sell it to the highest bidder on the open Market,

  3. germanstingray says: Jul 19, 2013 1:02 PM

    Failing to pay a debt is not the same thing as theft. The company is offering to pay interest and attorney fees, which is some degree of punishment for their actions. The real reason behind the sentiment of pounding Pilot Flying J into the ground is to run up the legal fees and line the lawyers’ pockets. Many attorneys don’t really care about fairness or justice, just money.

  4. tres79 says: Jul 19, 2013 1:16 PM

    I doubt there have been many times in history that a criminal has entered a courtroom not accompanied by a lawyer more crooked than their client.

  5. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 19, 2013 1:46 PM

    kane337:

    Or they need to pay a premium in fines. Jail doesn’t help anybody, it’s always better for all parties to find the right price to buy away the relevance of a jail term if you can.

  6. bigdawgy54 says: Jul 20, 2013 12:08 PM

    Let me say this. I am not an attorney nor am I a supportive spokesman of them. But, with that said, you “need” professional lawyers as a necessary element in our legal processes in America.
    To automatically bash lawyers who are trying to get the best deals for their clients shows a great deal of naivety as well as professional prejudice. If big powerful companies like PFJ have their highly paid legal teams working hard for Haslam, why should the smaller companies be forced to roll over and accept a less than equitable settlement? Those here that are automatically criticizing lawyers in no way shape or form are fully apprised of the details in this case.
    If Haslam is guilty as alleged, then this Arkansas deal must be toughened. There needs to be more punitive damages that helps prevent the inclinations for future cheatings and scams. I support the objections of the much smaller companies and their lawyers.

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