Federal Judge Dismisses Racketeering Claim Against Pilot

Jan 14, 2014

A federal district judge in Alabama threw out several claims contained in a lawsuit against Pilot Flying J, including racketeering. 

U.S. District Judge William Steele ruled the federal affidavit cited by Mobile, Ala.,-based Wright Transportation was not sufficient proof of the racketeering claim. He dismissed the claim, along with those alleging deceptive trade practices, misrepresentation and suppression.

A breach-of-contract claim will be allowed to stand, Steele ruled, because the rebate money Pilot withheld from Wright broke a legal agreement.

The affidavit Wright hung its claims on was released by federal investigators in April, not long after agents of the IRS and FBI raided Pilot's West Knoxville corporate headquarters. The affidavit contained transcripts and other information that alleged Pilot sales staff had engaged in a long-running scheme to skim money from fuel rebates that were promised to commercial customers across the country. A swell of lawsuits ensued as trucking firms sought to claim the funds they were owed.

Wright filed one of more than a dozen lawsuits still pending against Pilot over the rebate scandal. Many other companies hurt by the rebate scam agreed to settle with Pilot, to the tune of nearly $85 million. That agreement was approved by an Arkansas judge in November.