This Week at Pilot

Gordon Ball is known these days for being a class-action attorney who wins multi-million dollar judgments, some of them against paper companies polluting the Pigeon River. But Ball has joined the defense team for Mark Hazelwood, president of Pilot Flying J. The company is under federal investigation for shorting trucking company customers of rebates.

Ball is back in defense mode because Hazelwood is a longtime personal friend.

Ball started out as a federal prosecutor, but became a defense attorney. During the Butcher banking scandals, Ball won a surprise not-guilty verdict for Jim Steiner, who had been president of the Butcher-owned Southern Industrial Banking Company, a non-FDIC insured institution.

During the pardon and paroles scandal during the Blanton administration, people were convicted for selling "get out of jail free" cards, with one notable exception. Ball got a not-guilty verdict for his friend Charley Benson—who was in charge of the paroles department.

Meanwhile, locals are spending some time on the Cleveland Plain Dealer website. The paper has been all over the story because Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam owns the Cleveland Browns. This week the paper reported that Pilot board member Brad Martin, who the company put in charge of an internal investigation, once got in trouble when he headed the Saks Fifth Avenue department store chain. The company paid a massive fine after being accused of shorting vendors.

Gov. Bill Haslam, Jimmy's brother, once worked for Martin as head of the Saks online sales department.