$92 Million Fine Over Fuel Rebate Scheme

Pilot Flying J, a truck stop fueling and restaurant chain that is common along Illinois and U.S. highways, has agreed to pay $92 million in fines to the federal government for a scheme to cheat truck drivers out of agreed-upon diesel fuel rebates. The agreement was reached with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee and Pilot Travel Centers, LLC d/b/a “Pilot Flying J.”

It was alleged that the scheme cost the company’s truck driver customers more than $56 million. The agreement came after 10 Pilot Flying J employees pleaded guilty to involvement in the plot to defraud Flying J customers.

Pilot Flying J is one of the largest trucker diesel suppliers in the United States. Flying J offered rebates and discount programs to encourage loyalty among its trucking customers. The discounts offered by Pilot Flying J varied among its numerous truck stops making it difficult for customers to know whether they were getting their agreed-upon discounts. The U.S. Attorney’s Office stated that in some instances, Pilot Flying J instructed its sales staff how to reduce the rebates in order to make some discounts more profitable.

From the evidence in discovery, it appeared that Mark Hazelwood, the president of Pilot Flying J, knew the sales staffs were withholding rebates from some of the company’s less-sophisticated customers. Pilot Flying J is headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn.

In November 2013, a federal judge approved Pilot Flying J’s $85 million settlement with a class of 4,500 customers in a lawsuit filed in an Arkansas federal court over the fuel rebates. Several of the plaintiffs opted out of the settlement, which would allow them the right to bring separate lawsuits. In April 2014, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated seven lawsuits and assigned the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Incidentally, it is reported that the parent company of Pilot Flying J is controlled by Jimmy Haslam who is one of the controlling owners of the Cleveland Browns professional football team.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling truck accident cases, commercial litigation matters and business disputes for individuals, families and businesses for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Vernon Hills, Buffalo Grove, Highland Park, Winnetka, Glencoe, Wilmette, Evanston, Lincolnshire, Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Naperville, Wheaton, Bridgeview, Elmwood Park and River Grove, Ill.

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