August 4, 2014 10:45 AM, EDT
Federal Court Orders Mediation in Pilot Flying J Cases
Tom Biery/Trans Pixs

A Kentucky federal district court judge has ordered mediation in a slate of motor-carrier fraud lawsuits filed against Pilot Flying J.

U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar on July 30 referred the six lawsuits, consolidated earlier this year, to a federal magistrate for mediation, but did not cite a reason for his decision.

A week earlier, Thapar declined to allow the trucking companies to seek discovery in the lawsuits that have alleged diesel rebate fraud, saying that Pilot should first have the opportunity to seek dismissal of the lawsuits.

“Before a plaintiff may subject a defendant to the travails of discovery, a court must allow the defendant to test the complaint with a motion to dismiss,” Thapar said in a July 21 order.  “If the complaint is deficient, then the plaintiff is not entitled to conduct discovery of any kind. Therefore, the plaintiffs may not take discovery on their fraud claims to arm themselves against future motions to dismiss.”

The six carriers opted out of last year's $84.9 million class settlement with Pilot Flying J and have been trying to recover separate damages. So far, 10 Pilot executives have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges, and Pilot has agreed to pay $92 million in civil penalties to avoid criminal charges.