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Judge OKs Knox County Suit Against Pilot Flying J to Advance Partially

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Attorneys for Pilot Flying J were in Knox County Circuit Court Thursday seeking to get a stay on all legal proceedings in a lawsuit brought by four trucking companies over allegations of fraud in its fuel rebate program.

The civil lawsuit was filed April 22 on behalf of Atlantic Coast Carriers (ACC) and three other trucking companies. Normally, such a filing would result in a response to the lawsuit by the party being sued. However, Pilot Flying J never responded. The plaintiffs then filed a motion to compel, which asked the judge to force the Knoxville-based company to respond, according to The Tennessean.

Lawyers for ACC proceeded with a typical request for discovery, specifically documents such as financial records and depositions from top company executives, including Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam and President Mark Hazelwood, the newspaper reported.

Pilot Flying J, though, wants all lawsuits put on hold until at least November when an Arkansas court will decide whether or not to approve its proposed class-action settlement agreement.

On Thursday, Judge Harold Wimberly denied Pilot Flying J's motion to stay entirely, but did not force the company to move forward on all of the plaintiffs' requests. Instead, he ordered Pilot Flying J to respond to the lawsuit by Aug. 30. Another conference is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 9 to discuss discovery.

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.

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