A Pilot Flying J settlement related to the company's fuel-rebate scandal has received preliminary approval from a court. The proposed agreement would give trucking firms more than $40 million, and their attorneys another $14 million, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reports.
Pilot Flying J, the country's biggest truck-stop chain, designed the settlement after being slapped with about 20 lawsuits -- filed by truckers and trucking companies -- related to fuel-rebate shortages that came to light after raids by FBI and IRS agents.
Here's what affected customers can expect from the settlement offer:
- Class members will have their accounts audited from January 1, 2005, through July 15, 2013, at no cost to determine how much they are owed in unpaid rebates and discounts.
- Each class member then will be paid 100 percent of the amount owed, plus 6 percent interest.
- A court-appointed Independent Accountant will check the accuracy of Pilot Flying J's calculations.
- Class members who disagree with Pilot Flying J's audit of their account may challenge that result through the Independent Accountant or the court.
For some class actions, members must opt-in to the class. In this case, however, eligible Pilot Flying J customers were automatically members of the class -- they didn't have to do anything to join the class, according to the settlement letter.
Customers who don't want to be roped into the settlement must opt-out of the class. When you opt out of a class, you may then pursue your own remedies outside of the class in a separate lawsuit.
The upside of going it alone is that you can pursue additional damages not included in the settlement. The major downside is time and cost. By contrast, class members don't have to hire a lawyer to receive any payment owed.
Another option for Pilot Flying J customers who don't like the settlement is to remain in the class action, but to tell the Arkansas court why they disagree with the settlement and ask the court not to approve it.
A fairness hearing, which could lead to final approval, is scheduled for November 25. Meantime, members of the eligible class of Pilot Flying J customers have until October 15 to opt-out of the class or to express their grievances to the court.
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