Plaintiff Wants Top Pilot Execs to Deliver Depositions in Lawsuit

Aug 13, 2013

Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam talks to reporters on Friday, April 19, 2013.
Credit Christine Jessel, WUOT News

Three high-level Pilot executives and a company spokesman with ties to the Haslam family may give legal depositions in a lawsuit connected with the company’s alleged rebate fraud.

A Georgia-based trucking company called Cedar Creek wants to record depositions from Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam, president Mark Hazelwood, sales executive John Freeman and spokesman Tom Ingram. The depositions would collect out-of-court testimony in the lawsuit that alleges Pilot kept money that was promised to Cedar Creek through a rebate program. The depositions are scheduled for mid-October.

This isn't the first time plaintiffs have asked for depositions in suits related to the fraud scheme. Last month, Pilot attorneys moved to block an attempt to record a deposition from Haslam in a suit filed by another Georgia-based trucking firm. A judge is scheduled to rule on that motion on August 30.

Four months after FBI and IRS agents raided Pilot's West Knoxville headquarters, it's still unclear how much Haslam knew about the rebate scheme. In an April press conference, Haslam denied any knowledge of the fraud, which federal agents say went on for a period of five to eight years. But in a transcript of a recorded conversation, Pilot sales executive John Freeman said Haslam knew about the plan, and gave it at least tacit approval.

To date, more than 20 of Pilot's corporate customers have filed suit against the company over the rebate scheme. Some plan to settle out-of-court with the truck stop chain. Others, including Cedar Creek, plan to pursue legal action against Pilot. An Arkansas court is expected to rule in November on the fairness of the settlement offers.