KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar ordered Pilot Flying J to enter mediation with seven trucking companies that are suing the truck stop operator following allegations of fraud in its fuel rebate program, according to media reports. The judge did not provide reasoning for his decision in the one-page order filed on Wednesday.
Thapar advised both sides of the lawsuit that he is referring the matter to a Kentucky magistrate judge.
The trucking companies opted out of the $85-million class-action settlement with Pilot Flying J that was approved last fall. Their cases were later consolidated in federal court in Kentucky.
The companies ordered to mediation include:
- Shoreline Transportation of Alabama
- Osborn Transportation
- Wright Transportation
- National Retail Transportation
- Mario’s Express Service
- Triple D Supply
- FST Express
Some of the plaintiffs' attorneys reportedly objected to the order, stating that they wanted to first take discovery in order to determine what was stolen from their clients, but a defense attorney stated that an audit provided by Pilot Flying J shows an "absolutely full picture" of the damages.
Recent court documents also show that Thapar ruled last week that Pilot Flying J must have the chance to try to get the case dismissed before the discovery phase of the lawsuit could proceed.
Approximately 5,500 other trucking companies agreed to a settlement, through which Pilot Flying J agreed to pay all money owed plus 6-percent interest.