LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (WATE) – A United States District Judge in Arkansas gave preliminary approval Tuesday on the first settlement agreement for Pilot Flying J in several cases spawned by April’s FBI raid and investigation into the amount the company paid out in diesel fuel rebates.
The investigation found that Pilot Flying J employees had been shortchanging customers on the rebates they accrued through diesel fuel purchases and processing the rebates manually to cover up the discrepancy.
At least 13 other lawsuits have been filed against Pilot and many of them also class action suits.
Plaintiffs National Trucking Financial Reclamation Services, Bruce Taylor, Edis Trucking, Jerry Floyd, Mike Campbell, Paul Otto, Townes Trucking and R&R Transportation are involved in the settlement.
The terms of the settlement stipulate that the plaintiffs will receive 100 percent of the amount owed to each class member plus 6 percent interest per year, dating back to 2008.
Pilot also agreed to pay for legal fees up to $14 million total for the plaintiffs.
The settlement indicates that the defendants are not admitting guilt or wrongdoing in the allegations of fraud.
Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam praised the company’s lawyers for their work on the settlement.
“I commend all of these individuals for their hard work and dedication to ensuring our customers are paid back quickly and fairly for any potential discrepancies found in their accounts,” he said.
“This is an unfortunate time for our customers and our company, but we remain committed to making things 100% right with our customers, to put systems in place to help ensure this does not happen again, and to re-earn our customers trust,” he continued.
The final approval hearing will take place Nov. 25.
Lincoln Memorial University Assistant Law Professor Melanie Reid told 6 News the settlement is not enough proof by itself for criminal charges as the civil and criminal matters are separate.
“It would make sense for a defendant to settle a case civilly, because under the civil standard, the plaintiff only has to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence,” Reid said. “If they have a 50/50 shot, it would make sense for a defendant to want to settle, but in a criminal case the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”