Customers claim fraud at Haslam-owned chain went deeper

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — After a 2013 FBI raid on the truck-stop chain owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Gov. Bill Haslam, Pilot Flying J moved quickly to settle fraud claims. But a handful of companies that refused to settle say their lawsuit has uncovered a deception that other firms overlooked.

The trucking companies say they agreed to buy fuel from Pilot in return for special rates. Those rates often were represented as "cost" plus a few cents. Four companies suing Pilot in federal court say they were led to believe that "cost" was Pilot's actual fuel cost. In reality it was based on an industry average.

Pilot attorney Aubrey Harwell says Pilot was transparent about the way it calculated cost. He says the average used is an industry standard.