Judge denies motion to bar Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam from contacting fuel customers

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A judge Monday shot down a bid by a Georgia trucking company to block the chief of Pilot Flying J from contacting customers in the wake of federal probe into its fuel rebate program.

Knox County Circuit Court Judge Harold Wimberly today denied a motion by Atlantic Coast Carriers Inc. for a restraining order barring Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam from reaching out to other trucking customers impacted by the rebate scandal.

Wimberly ruled the Georgia firm, which is suing Pilot for allegedly shorting trucking customers of fuel rebates, lacked proof of its claims Haslam was tampering with witnesses.

Wimberly said the firm was relying solely on media reports in which Haslam was quoted as saying he was reaching out to trucking customers allegedly shorted by his sales staff and taking steps to repay them.

"There is no verified complaint," Wimberly said. "There is no affidavit."

Pilot headquarters were raided two weeks ago by federal authorities. Court documents allege the company intentionally shortchanged small trucking companies on fuel rebates.

Haslam has denied any knowledge of the alleged rebate scheme but has said he intends to repay any customers victimized by it.

Atlantic has filed a proposed class action lawsuit over the alleged rebate scandal. The company has not yet been awarded class action status, however.

Tom Ingram of the Ingram Group public relations firm held a press conference on behalf of Pilot after the hearing.

"We're delighted with the judge's decision," he said.

Ingram said accusing Haslam of witness tampering for trying to make amends was "outrageous."

"This is a classic case of an out-of-state lawyer proving no good deed goes unpunished," Ingram said.

The company issued a statement following the ruling.

Staff writer Matt Lakin contributed to this report.

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