As Browns owner Jimmy Haslam heads to Berea, Ohio for the launch of the team’s training camp, his mind may instead be on Maine.
That’s where a judicial panel will consider on Thursday whether to consolidate the various civil suits filed against the truck-stop behemoth Haslam runs and transfer the cases to a single court.
The consolidated lawsuit apparently would consist of the Pilot Flying J customers who opt out of the nationwide settlement, which would pay customers any money wrongfully withheld from them plus six percent interest.
Lawyers opposing the nationwide settlement contend that the deal omits the potential recovery of treble damages (certain types of violations permit a tripling of the amount due) and/or punitive damages. Pilot Flying J attorney Aubrey Harwell predictably disagrees.
“We are giving people their money back. We are paying people an extremely high rate of interest . . . and paying all legal fees,” Harwell said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Anyone who doesn’t like the settlement can opt out and make any decision they want.”
Harwell is right, but Harwell also knows that some customers will simply stick with the class action, not realizing that they may be owed more than what the company has offered to pay. In other words, the same lack of sophistication that allegedly prompted Pilot Flying J to short their rebate payments could prompt the customers to just shrug their shoulders and collect far less than they possibly deserve.