LANE KIDD: What's Arkansas trucking lobbyist doing in fuel rebate lawsuit?
This article out of Tennesse has
an interesting Arkansas
It began with a federal investigation of diesel fuel rebates
by Pilot Flying J,
a truck stop chain based in Knoxville.
Lawsuits against the company by trucking companies followed. They contend they didn't receive rebates and discounts they were due.
A settlement was worked out with some of the companies. An attorney, Drew McElroy
, injected the Arkansas angle with questions recently about the settlements. From an article by WBIR-TV in Knoxville:
McElroy said that agreement was worked out with some mysterious characters.
"My concern is more about what we don't know that what we do know," said McElroy. "Specifically, I have concerns over National Trucking Reclamation Services LLC in Little Rock, Arkansas."
National Trucking filed a federal lawsuit against Pilot Flying J on April 24. That was the first federal case filed against Pilot. The complaint by National Trucking says, "Customers such as Plaintiff were not receiving owed diesel fuel rebates and discounts for years."
But when National Trucking filed the lawsuit, documents show the company was only two days old.
"This company was formed on April 22 and they sued on April 24. The FBI raid was on April 15. They never purchased a drop of fuel from Pilot," said McElroy. "Pilot is very well represented legally, so why Pilot never filed a motion to dismiss is a mystery to me. Instead of asking that they [National Trucking] be dismissed, they are the company [Pilot] runs to with the settlement agreement."
What is National Trucking Reclamation?
It was created by Lane Kidd
, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association,
the big truck lobby. Pilot is a member of ATA and sponsors the ATA's annual convention.
Kidd declined to comment to the TV station. He said court documents spoke for themselves.
Kidd told the station he'd be willing to talk after a federal fairness hearing on the settlement agreement scheduled for November. An attorney for the company denied any knowledge about Kidd's company. Said Aubrey Harwell, Pilot's attorney:
"Why in the world would somebody set up a company, file a lawsuit, settle a lawsuit, if they didn't think they were going to recover money?"
That appears to remain the question. Articles in a variety of industry
media have raised the suggestion that Kidd's company was a shell hastily created to help Pilot.
A Cleveland TV station reported last nigh
t on details of the federal probe into allegations the company had withheld money owed truckers. The probe has produced plea deals with employees involved in the scheme. The case is of interest in Cleveland because Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam
is majority owner of the Cleveland Browns football team.
UPDATE: Kidd distributed a statement in Tennessee in which he said the corporation was established to make claims for trucking companies that didn't want to be publicly identified. He said it wasn't done to benefit Pilot.
Here's a copy of his statement.