Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore Secures Victory for Florida Taxpayers (and Pizza Lovers!)
The attorneys at Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore fight for you!
(Spoiler alert: Check out www.FloridaDeliveryChargeSettlement.com if you had a Papa John’s pizza delivered to you between March 28, 2010 and December 1, 2014. You can make a claim for one or more discounts on future online orders!)
Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore’s attorneys recently settled a class-action lawsuit on behalf of millions of Floridians who buy pizza for delivery from the national pizza chain Papa John’s. For many years, Papa John’s and all but 16 of its franchise restaurants in Florida have charged and collected sales tax on its delivery fees. A group of Papa John’s customers, represented by Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, sued to halt the practice and to obtain a refund of the monies alleged to have been wrongfully collected as sales tax. While a few extra pennies here and there may not sound like much, Papa John’s restaurants make many pizza deliveries and, when suit was filed, were collecting about $100,000 in sales taxes every month in Florida. At $0.21 a delivery, that’s a lot of deliveries – and a lot of money!
Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore sued, contending that it was improper under Florida law for Papa John’s to charge a sales tax on a separately stated delivery fee that could be avoided at the election of the customer – here, by simply picking the pizza up at the restaurant instead of having it delivered. Though the case was hotly contested throughout the litigation, Papa John’s eventually was able to confirm the correctness of its customers’ legal position with the Florida Department of Revenue. Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore negotiated a settlement with Papa John’s in which the company agreed, reasonably and responsibly, to structure a mechanism where most of its customers can recoup all – and, in some cases, even more — of what Papa John’s had charged them over a four-year period when it had collected sales tax on delivery fees.
What this means is that anyone paying sales tax on delivery fees in the claim period can obtain one or more coupons for a significant discount on one or more of their next delivery order from Papa John’s.
Beyond agreeing to pay its customers who have been harmed, Papa John’s also agreed to stop charging sales tax on its delivery fees. All Florida franchisees who had previously charged sales tax have ceased doing so as well — thereby saving Floridians over $1,000,000 a year in unnecessary and improper sales tax payments on delivery fees.
To make a claim, Papa John’s Florida customers can go to this special website to determine their eligibility and to file a claim: www.FloridaDeliveryChargeSettlement.com.
Anyone who purchased an order for delivery from a Florida Papa John’s restaurant at any time between March 28, 2010 and December 1, 2014, and who was charged and paid sales tax on a delivery fee, is a Class Member. Thus, if you ordered food for delivery during this period from any Papa John’s restaurant located in Florida—other than certain restaurants in Florida’s Panhandle (Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Panama City, Destin, Crestview, Gulf Breeze, Navarre, Milton, and Panama City Beach)—and paid a delivery fee on your order, then you are part of the Settlement Class and may make a claim for benefits.
Simply go to the website and submit your claim: www.FloridaDeliveryChargeSettlement.com.
The value of the purchase discounts that Settlement Class Members will receive will be based on the number of delivery orders each class member purchased from Papa John’s between March 28, 2010 and December 1, 2014 (called “the Class Period”). The purchase discounts are subject to certain conditions and will only be valid when making an online purchase from a Papa John’s Florida restaurant.
- Settlement Class Members who paid for between 1 and 9 delivery orders during the Class Period will receive a purchase discount of $2.00.
- Settlement Class Members who paid for between 10 and 24 delivery orders during the Class Period will receive a purchase discount of $4.00.
- Settlement Class Members who paid for between 25 and 49 delivery orders during the Class Period will receive one purchase discount of $5.00 and one purchase discount of $2.00.
- Settlement Class Members who paid for 50 or more delivery orders during the Class Period will receive two purchase discounts of $5.00 each and one purchase discount of $2.00.
The deadline for making a claim is December 31, 2015, so do not delay. And please pass the word on to your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues!
Kudos to Papa John’s for resolving this dispute and doing the right thing.
Work with Tampa’s Experienced Class Action Litigation Attorneys!
Imagine that you purchase a wonderful new product – an energy drink or a new kitchen tool, for example. You consume or use the product but all does not go well. The energy drink causes you severe stomach distress or perhaps even exacerbates an existing condition, requiring a doctor’s care. The kitchen tool malfunctions, requiring stitches or destroying your countertop. All in all, your damages don’t amount to much: a few hundred or a few thousand dollars or even less, but you’d like to be able to encourage the company that manufactured the product to either improve it or stop making it. You don’t want anyone else to suffer like you did.
Now you face a dilemma: Do you spend thousands of dollars in court costs and attorney’s fees to prove a point and recover a few hundred dollars?
Fortunately, there is sometimes another option: a class action lawsuit. If others used the same product and were similarly injured by it, you can all get together and sue for the total amount of your damages, rather than each of you trying to bring the suit individually. Class action suits are designed to promote recovery in cases where the cost of litigation is likely to outweigh the damages of a single plaintiff. It allows big corporations to be found liable for harm they’ve caused on a small or large scale (think Erin Brockovich) to large groups of plaintiffs.
Now, however, a handful of senators are trying to severely limit this protection.
On April 22, 2015, U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) – the head of the House Judiciary Committee – introduced H.R. 1927, a bill purportedly seeking “to improve fairness in class action litigation.” Representative Goodlatte’s bill, if successful, would limit classes of plaintiffs in federal cases to those who suffered an injury (i.e., damage to body or property) “of the same type and extent as the injury of the named class representative or representatives.”
The key limitation, here, is the phrase “same type and extent.” Contrary to the bill’s purported purpose, that limitation would have a profound effect on the ability of plaintiffs to form classes large enough to create and maintain effective class action lawsuits.
To illustrate, imagine that, in the kitchen tool example above, the small appliance damaged your expensive granite countertop, while your neighbor used the same appliance and damaged her pressboard and plastic countertop. Even though you both used the same appliance and both damaged your countertops, because the extent of your damages is vastly different in value, the limitation proposed by H.R. 1927 would require you each to be in a different “class” of plaintiffs.
Again, to use the energy drink example, if your use of the drink only resulted in severe abdominal cramps and a few days of lost work, but your brother was bedridden because the drink caused a flare-up of his existing medical condition, you would be separated into two different classes because your injuries were not the same “type.”
This bill, of course, is fair only for corporations who dislike being sued. The more that corporations can limit the size of plaintiff classes, the less likely it becomes that any class will be large enough to challenge them in court. The smaller the classes, the smaller the potential settlement, and the smaller the odds that the settlement will cover the legal fees required to bring suit. Soon, defective products will go unchallenged because no group is large enough to force change.