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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The proposed settlement that could bring to a close multiple lawsuits around the alleged fraud in Pilot Flying J's fuel rebate program has landed on the desk of the Tennessee attorney general.
According to a report by The Tennessean, state Attorney General Robert E. Cooper is conducting a "fairness review" of the deal. The move comes as representatives from some affected trucking companies have criticized the proposal.
"We have received the proposed class-action settlement involving Pilot Flying J, and we are reviewing using the same standards that apply to all other cases reviewed by the office," Cooper's spokeswoman Sharon Curtis-Flair wrote in an email to the newspaper.
Aubrey Harwell, one of the lawyers representing Pilot Flying J, said the review by Cooper's office was mandated under the federal Class Action Fairness Act. Aides to Cooper said the office routinely reviews about 300 proposed class-action settlements per year under the federal law.
According to Cooper's staff, the review must be completed by Oct. 25, the newspaper reported.
As CSNews Online previously reported, Pilot Flying J filed a motion in Arkansas federal court on July 16 regarding the proposed class settlement that would resolve more than 20 lawsuits filed against the company since the April 15 federal raid on its Knoxville headquarters. 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 include:
- An audit of accounts of all customers who received a rebate and/or discount from Pilot Flying J dating back to 2008.
- All customers will receive 100 percent of any money owed, with 6 percent interest, as soon as discrepancies are verified.
- An independent accountant, approved by the court and paid for by Pilot Flying J, will validate Pilot Flying J's internal audit process.
- Customers have the right to dispute audit results.
- Customers have the opportunity to opt out because they do not like the agreement or because they simply do not want to participate in the class action.
- Pilot Flying J will pay all costs related to the processing of the customer claims and the litigation, which includes audit costs (both internal and external), administrative costs and legal fees, saving customers significant time and money.
In July, U.S. District Judge James M. Moody of the Eastern District of Arkansas granted preliminary approval to the proposal. A fairness hearing is set for Nov. 25.
Pilot Flying J is a family-owned business that operates more than 650 retail locations and is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America.