Judge denies motion for restraining order in Pilot Flying J case

(Note: We’ll try to keep an eye on this without going overboard in non-Browns news angles, but when something significant does occur, we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.)

When a company that allegedly rips off customers engages in a P.R. battle with attorneys heading up a class action lawsuit, who comes out looking better? Jimmy Haslam started a campaign of talking to customers who were allegedly out money at the hands of Pilot Flying J employees. The attorneys who were attempting to recruit those same customers into their lawsuit were seeking a restraining order on the grounds of “obstruction of justice.” Attorneys Drew McElroy and Mark Tate were on record at KnoxNews.com.

“At issue in this case is the danger that … defendants are inducing potential class members to waive important rights before they obtain proper legal advice or know the full extent of any damages they have,” the attorneys wrote. “The amounts defendants are now offering potential class members may be well below the full amount of their claims. … Defendants should not now be permitted to influence witnesses and pay what they should have paid years ago in an attempt to undermine the class-action process.”

Of course those attorneys are not speaking on behalf of the criminal investigation being conducted by the FBI and IRS. They’re attempting to put a civil suit together in order to seek compensation and damages from Pilot Flying J on behalf of their clients. I don’t know what the percentages are, but most attorneys I’ve interacted with indicate that settlements are a very common outcome in these cases. The attorneys, of course, take a cut of those damages or settlements.

Jimmy Haslam has reportedly been out dealing with customers trying to make good on past misdeeds to try and minimize the damage. It’s a self-serving campaign, but I could also argue that it is the right thing to do, potentially. It just seems a little “fresh” that the attorneys who want clients to get what they think is fair from Pilot Flying J would have a problem with customers doing just that with Jimmy Haslam directly while claiming impropriety. They might truly believe they can do better for these customers than they can do on their own, but it stands to reason they might be more interested in their own payday and a judge had a chance to decide what to do this morning.

The judge has decided to deny their motion for a restraining order according to WBIR Channel 10 in Knoxville.

That means Haslam and company are free to continue to try and make good with their mistreated customers for now. The judge seemed convinced as well, saying, “Why would I not be delighted that these cases be settled out of court?”

[Related:2013 NFL Draft – “Did the Browns win or lose?” with Scott Raab – WFNY Podcast – 2013-04-29]


  • woofersus

    It may be a self-serving campaign, but those business are almost certainly better off receiving some sort of restitution from Pilot Flying J than they are getting a token sum from a class action lawsuit. The only winners in that scenario are the lawyers, who I would argue are being even more self serving, by trying to put a restraining order between the parties wronged and the people who owe them money.

  • Hopwin

    God save us all from Civil attornies…

  • BenRM

    Completely correct.

  • This is an extremely ignorant comment, even without the spelling error. Like anything else, there are good civil attorneys and bad ones, and there’s nothing better than a good one when you need one.

    Anyway, the motion for a restraining order here was not a good look, and really a no-brainer decision for the judge (as essentially noted by the judge).

  • MrCleaveland

    Good on you, Judge. That was the right ruling. The more disputes we can settle ourselves without involving the court system the better.

  • I’m so very careful not to trip over myself talking about legal issues knowing you’re around. I know a lot for a layman, but… 🙂

  • Garry_Owen

    Everyone hates attorneys until they need one. Hope you never need one.

  • I love MY attorneys and hate everyone else’s. Isn’t that how it goes? 🙂

  • Garry_Owen

    Well, usually. Until you get the bill. Then you go back to hating us. And then you don’t pay us for our EXCELLENT work. And then we write letters. And then you hate us more.

  • Harv 21

    I hope WFNY writers will take extra care when weighing in on these legal proceedings. If you comment not knowing the standard used by the judge – e.g., not knowing the difference between a ruling on the merits of the positions versus what special additional issues a judge must consider before granting a restraining order – you risk being Joe Sportstalk Host.

    Please, careful guys. Keep that hard-won credibility.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a bad lawyer?

    A bad lawyer makes your case drag on for years. A good lawyer makes it last even longer.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    What’s the difference between a lawyer and a leech?

    After you die, a leech stops sucking your blood.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    What does a lawyer get when you give him Viagra?


  • Vindictive_Pat

    Don’t worry Garry, I hate you for entirely different reasons than for being a lawyer.

  • I tried to take extra care and I think we’ve pretty much decided only to grab highlights to this case as opposed to every single story that comes out every day. As always, I’m also open to pleasantly contributed critiques of my work. I know where my lane is and mostly try to stay in it.

  • Garry_Owen

    Wow. Three upticks (thus far) on your hate-filled, hating comment of hate.
    My “list” has just grown by 3. Now, if I can just figure out who did it . . .

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I agree lets go back to duels damn the gun violence. Use bow and arrows instead!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Why you have good insurance? 😉

  • Vindictive_Pat

    It’s four now! Everybody loves a hater, G.

  • Harv 21

    I know you do. And hope my critique was sufficiently pleasant.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I like you father. $1 I’ll give it a down vote!

  • mgbode

    for the record, I gave you an uptick here Garry. I know who supplies the whiskey.

  • Garry_Owen

    [note to self: mgbode gets to live]

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Jack Daniels?

  • Grif_E

    I really hope these dopes aren’t letting Jimmy hand them a check for exactly the amount they were duped for. If that’s the case they’re exactly as dumb as the Pilot employees thought they were.

  • Acrossthefield11

    These types of attorneys are the scum of the earth and need to find something more productive to do with their lives… like… say… pottery or ceramics.

  • theakeman2