Restraining order against Pilot rejected

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Lawyers for Pilot Flying J successfully convinced a judge not to impose a restraining order that would of prevented them from contacting trucking companies.

They told the judge any injunction would prohibit them from talking to thousands of customers and, in turn, prevent those customers from talking to them.

“We are delighted with the judge’s decision today,” Tom Ingram, a company spokesman, said after the judge made his ruling. “There was absolutely no proof of any wrongdoing on the part of Pilot Flying J or its CEO, Jimmy Haslam.”

Ingram said the idea that Pilot Flying J should not talk to its customers “is outrageous and would have crippled Pilot’s ability to do business.”

Atlantic Coast Carriers flied for the injunction last week, attempting to stop the truck stop chain from contacting any companies that may have been victims of an alleged rebate scheme. Its attorneys told a judge "irreparable harm" was done by Pilot by reaching out to trucking companies, claiming they will be less willing to testify.

As an example, they pointed to Morehouse Trucking. Haslam had said he reached out to them to apologize and to settle their debt, which the plaintiffs described as "paying off witnesses."

"We have no idea of what the payoffs are or if they are fair," said Atlantic Coast Carriers' lawyers, claiming there is no paperwork signed when Pilot pays. Lawyers for Pilot countered by saying they were just trying to repair relationships, not influence witnesses.

The judge seemed to support that position when he asked, "why wouldn't I be happy to have many of these cases resolved?"

Pilot's attorneys argued the plaintiff's whole complaint was based off of news reports and that wasn't enough to warrant a restraining order.

Atlantic Coast Carriers' attorneys asked the court to accept the news reports as evidence, saying "(t)here's never been a case like this," but were rebuffed.

Three more trucking companies have joined the suit against Pilot Flying J, including Golden Carriers of New Jersey, Blachowske Truck Line of Georgia and Glazier Trucking of Oklahoma.

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