While class actions continue to stack up against retailers accused of improperly collecting Cook County’s new so-called “pop tax,” one of the law firms bringing those suits has also popped two new class action suits under Chicago’s “soft drink tax,” as well.
In the lawsuits filed Sept. 1, attorneys with the Zimmerman Law Offices in Chicago have accused Subway restaurants in the city and the company that operates concessions and restaurants at O’Hare International Airport of wrongly charging the city’s 3 percent tax on purchases of fruit juice.
Both of the lawsuits were filed by the Zimmerman firm on behalf of the same plaintiff, identified as Mark Wallace, against Doctor’s Associates, the company which serves as the franchisor for Subway restaurants, and against concessionaire HMS Host.
The Maryland-based HMS operates concessions and restaurants under a variety of brands at O’Hare and at several Illinois Tollway oasis rest stops in the Chicago area.
According to the lawsuits, Wallace purchased 100 percent juice drinks at Subway restaurants in Chicago and at a concession or restaurant operated by HMS Host in August. On those occasions, the lawsuits allege, the retailers charged him the city’s 3 percent tax on non-alcoholic beverages, which, they claim, is only intended to apply to beverages with added “natural or artificial sweeteners.”
The lawsuits don’t specify the locations at which Wallace bought the juice drinks and was charged the tax.
According to the lawsuits, Wallace purchased an orange juice and a “100 percent juice smoothie beverage” at the HMS Host location, paying an additional 24 cents on the $7.88 price for the drinks.
Wallace claims he paid an addition 5 cents in tax on his purchase of an orange juice at Subway.
The lawsuits ask the court to expand the cases to include anyone who was improperly charged the taxes on similar juice beverage purchases at either a Chicago Subway or at a Chicago property operated by HMS Host.
The lawsuits ask the court to order the defendants to pay actual damages, plus attorney fees.
The lawsuits come in the wake of the filing of seven class action lawsuits against Subway and other retailers by lawyers asserting they had erred in charging Cook County’s controversial penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax since that tax took effect at the beginning of August.
The Zimmerman firm, a regular filer of class action lawsuits in Cook County courts and elsewhere, had brought two of those lawsuits related to the Cook County tax, hitting 7-Eleven and Subway’s corporate entity.