Pilot Flying J settles class action

Posted on: August 20th, 2013 by Steve Larson

Fotolia TruckA federal judge has preliminarily approved a proposed settlement agreement for a class action filed in the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam runs Pilot Flying J, a billion-dollar, family-owned truck-stop company founded by his father.

If the settlement ultimately is approved after the mandatory period for notifying all class members and giving them a chance to object and/or opt out, the settlement would apply on a nationwide basis, covering more than 4,000 Pilot Flying J customers.

“If approved” is the key term.  With well over a dozen class actions pending, other lawyers and other trucking companies surely will choose to exit the settlement and pursue their own claims.  Others could object to the settlement on a variety of potential grounds, including most significantly the amount of money that each trucking company will receive.

There’s also reason to at least be a little suspicious about the selection of a lawsuit filed in Arkansas as the one to settle. It’s entirely possible that the lawyers hand-picked that class action for settlement based on factors such as the likelihood that the judge eventually will approve the settlement, the demands being made by the named plaintiff, and the perceived negotiating skills and abilities of the lawyers representing the proposed class.

In a case arising from alleged efforts to prey financially upon unsophisticated trucking companies, it would be fitting for Pilot Flying J to attempt to settle all claims with all customers by negotiating a fast and favorable settlement with lawyers perceived to be less sophisticated than the lawyers handling the various other class actions pending throughout the country.