EDWARDSVILLE — A St. Louis law firm has filed a class action suit in Madison County Circuit Court against Papa John’s Pizza, claiming the chain illegally charged 16 cents sales tax on each delivery charge of $2.39.
“In Illinois, sales tax may only be imposed on the total sales price of taxable tangible property. The sales price is the total amount paid for tangible goods, including services that are part of the sale;
“however, when a customer has the option to either pick up the goods or have the goods delivered by the seller, a seller may not legally charge sales tax on a separate charge for deliver when the cost of delivering the merchandise,” the suit claims.
The stores have charged delivery fees for the past few years. In addition, a prompt used in the chain’s telephone system urges customers to tip the delivery men and women.
The named plaintiff is Zachary Tucker, a resident of Madison County. He is suing on behalf of himself and all other Illinois customers who have been charged sales taxes on delivery fees. Typically, once the case is decided or settled, the customers may get their money back by sending in a request. The attorneys may be awarded one-third of the total award or settlement amount.
The suit claims that the billing practice is required by the Papa John’s International, Inc. the firm that sells franchises to local operators.
“The billing practice for charging sales tax on delivery fees was orchestrated and mandated by Papa John’s and is followed by most, if not all, locations in Illinois at the direction of Papa John’s,” the suit alleges.
The suit claims Tucker chose to have his order delivered and was charged $2.39 and was improperly charged a sales tax of 6.85 percent on the feel, resulting in a 16-cent tax.
There are several questions of law that must be addressed before the case is certified as a class action. One such question is whether members of the class are so numerous that their “individual joinder” is impossible.
The suit is asking for damages for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract/breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.
The suit is asking for an injunction against the chain, preventing it from charging the tax, compensatory damages, plus interest, restitution, actual damages and attorneys fees and costs. The suit was filed by Carey, Danis & Lowe of St. Louis and Wagner, Vaughan & McLaughlin of Tampa, Fla.
Sanford J. Schmidt can be reached at 618-463-2558 or Twitter @SanfordSan.