NASHVILLE -- The Tennessean is reporting that a Nebraska trucker has filed a class-action suit in Nashville charging that Pilot Flying J, the national truck-stop chain, secretly reduced promised rebates since 2005.
The suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court charges that Pilot reduced the rebates for Paul Otto of Wisner, Neb., and other truckers in a scheme by the company's top sales executives.
Like more than a dozen other suits filed across the country in state and federal courts, the 22-page complaint cites a 120-page affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville following an April 15 raid on Pilot's Knoxville headquarters by FBI and IRS agents.
The affidavit includes transcripts of secretly taped meetings of Pilot sales executives in which they discussed the plan to reduce promised rebates to truckers who were not likely to notice.
The suit charges that the scheme violated consumer protection statutes and amounted to fraud. "Defendants misled and deceived plaintiff and class members by reducing diesel fuel rebates and discounts without their knowledge or consent," the complaint states.
Other nearly identical suits have been filed by Pilot customers in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois and Florida.
Otto's suit is the first to be filed in Nashville. James A. Haslam III, Pilot's CEO, has denied any knowledge of the rebate cutting scheme and has vowed to repay truckers with interest for anything they are owed.
Walter F. Roche Jr.