Cook County Record

Friday, September 20, 2019

Class action says Walgreens wrongly collected 5 cent bottled water tax from other drink sales

By Jonathan Bilyk | Aug 17, 2016

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, revealed Walgreens was wrongly charging the bottled water tax on sparkling water beverages.

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.

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Organizations in this Story

Siprut P.C. Walgreens Boots Alliance