Pilot J, the truck-stop restaurant chain owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, has agreed to refund companies that were cheated out of fuel rebates, according to The Tennessean.
A class-action lawsuit had sought to recover monies owed plus interest, and was given preliminary approval Tuesday on a settlement by an Arkansas federal judge.
Earlier this year, federal agents raided the Knoxville-based headquarters of Pilot Flying J after an employee alleged the company was bilking clients, leading to five employees eventually pleading guilty to charges.
"We understand that Pilot Flying J still has lots of work to do to regain your trust," Haslam said in a three-page letter released Monday by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Haslam and his brother, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who owns part of the company, have denied any criminal behavior.
The agreement calls for Pilot Flying J to reimburse legal fees and other expenses. If any of the eight plaintiffs decline the settlement, they are eligible to file separate lawsuits.
Don Barrett, the lead attorney for the trucking companies, said he expects his clients will be "pleased to death" with the settlement, because many aren't sure what they are owed, if anything. Here, they will receive what they are owed, plus six percent.
Despite a Wall Street Journal report in June that said Pilot Flying J was $4 billion in debt, Haslam told ESPN Cleveland that he is "absolutely not" selling the Browns.
"We plan on owning the Browns for a long time," he told ESPN Cleveland.