With a judge in Arkansas tentatively approving the settlement of a nationwide class action against Pilot Flying J, a judge in Tennessee will decide next month whether to approve the effort in another case to question under oath its CEO, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
According to Alison Grant of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Judge Harold Wimberly has scheduled a hearing on a motion to block the deposition of Haslam and others for August 30.
The goal for Haslam should be to delay the obligation to testify as long as possible, so that he’ll know whether he’s being charged criminally before he tries to tiptoe through the minefield of answering questions in a civil proceeding, where the Fifth Amendment can still be invoked if criminal charges haven’t been resolved — but where invoking the Fifth Amendment can be used against Haslam and the company his father founded in the 1950s.
If Haslam is indicted by a grand jury currently exploring an investigation that has yielded guilty pleas from five Pilot Flying J executives, Haslam’s lawyers should move quickly to stay all civil litigation until the criminal case has ended. Until then, they should move as slowly as possible in order to know whether Haslam will be facing criminal jeopardy before he testifies in any of the pending civil cases.