Judge calls Pilot to court over restraining order

By: John Treanor
By: John Treanor

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Atlantic Coast Carriers has filed a restraining order or injunction against Pilot Flying J in an attempt to stop the company from contacting any trucking companies that may have been victims of an alleged rebate scheme.

The trucking company believes that by apologizing or settling debt to those companies Pilot Flying J and their CEO Jimmy Haslam may influence potential witnesses.

They point to a recent news conference where Jimmy Haslam claimed he was reaching out to several trucking companies, including ones listed in an FBI search warrant, as examples of the need for a restraining order.

Both sides are scheduled to appear in court Monday the 29th.

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The lawyer for the first trucking company to sue Pilot Flying J said he plans to file for an emergency hearing to prevent what he calls "witness tampering" by CEO Jimmy Haslam.

Georgia-based attorney Mark Tate told Local 8 News he will file the motion in federal court in Knox County.

Tate represents Atlantic Coast Carriers in Hazelhurst, Ga., a company suing the travel center giant for unpaid rebates. The trucking line filed its suit on Monday, days after the FBI released the details of the investigation that led to its raid on Pilot headquarters.

The charges in the suit include racketeering and breach of contract. They use the FBI search warrant affidavit as evidence. Atlantic Coast is seeking a jury trial, as well as actual and punitive damages.

On Friday, a day after a federal court unsealed an FBI affidavit in an ongoing investigation of customer rebate fraud at Pilot Flying J, Haslam sat down with reporters. He said he hasn't done anything wrong and isn't stepping aside amid a federal investigation of his company's business practices.

The company is a chain of truck stops the Haslam family owns. No charges have been filed.

The Pilot headquarters was raided last Monday by federal agents after employees told the FBI and said in secretly recorded conversations that Haslam knew his sales staff was improperly cutting rebates to Pilot's diesel fuel customers.

Atlantic's lawsuit and request for restraining order attached.

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