A man who claims Walgreens wrongly charged him a 5 cent sales
tax on drinks he purchased at their stores has brought a class action lawsuit
against the nation’s largest chain of drug stores, claiming the retailer likely
similarly overcharged potentially thousands of other people and should be made
to pay under Illinois law.
On Aug. 15, Destin McIntosh, identified only as a resident
of Cook County, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Deerfield-based
Walgreens Boots Alliance.
He is represented in the action by attorney Joseph Siprut,
of Siprut P.C., of Chicago.
The lawsuit focuses on a special tax placed on bottled water
in the city of Chicago. The tax, in place since 2008, charges 5 cents per
bottle of water sold at retail. The tax excluded carbonated beverages, such as
seltzer water, sparkling waters, sold under such brands as Perrier or La Croix,
or soft drinks; flavored water, which would include such brands as Sobe Life
Water or Vitamin Water; and mineral water or water sold by “delivery services
in a container not sold with the water.”
However, the lawsuit said news reports, published by “several
Chicago news outlets,” including online news site DNAInfo.com, revealed
Walgreens was wrongly charging the bottled water tax on sparkling water
In the lawsuit, McIntosh claimed to have purchased sparkling
water drinks from Walgreens stores in Chicago “on multiple occasions in 2015,
asserting he shopped at Walgreens stores in the Loop, the South Loop, Rogers
Park and Lakeview, near his home, his job and friends’ homes.
The lawsuit noted McIntosh did not keep his receipts from
the purchases, but believes “Walgreens’ records should demonstrate that (he)
was in fact charged and paid the Bottled Water Tax.”
While a spokesman for Walgreens asserted in published
reports the company had corrected the taxation problem, McIntosh’s lawsuit
alleged the company should have sought to refund the allegedly improper charges
to its customers, but did not.
McIntosh’s lawsuit alleged Walgreens’ actions concerning the
collection of the tax violated Illinois’ consumer fraud law.
McIntosh’s lawsuit said his attorneys don’t know how many
people allegedly may have been similarly overcharged. But they are asking the judge to allow them to
examine Walgreens’ “books and records” to uncover that number.
For now, the lawsuit asked the court to approve a class of additional
plaintiffs including everyone who “purchased carbonated, flavored or mineral
water from a Walgreens store located in Chicago” and may have been charged the
5 cent tax.
The lawsuit asked the court to award unspecified “actual and
statutory damages,” plus attorney fees.