McDonald’s, Walgreens, 7-Eleven hit with lawsuits over Cook County soda pop tax

Three major purveyors of soda pop and other beverages have been sued in the week since Cook County’s new penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened drinks went into effect, with 7-Eleven and Walgreens accused of applying the charge to unsweetened beverages and McDonald’s accused of essentially taxing the tax.

In the latest case, Chicago resident Kelly Tarrant filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging 7-Eleven charged her a 28-cent tax on a 99-cent unsweetened coffee in a Super Big Gulp cup that she bought Monday at a store on South Dearborn Street. Her lawsuit comes a day after a Chicago man sued McDonald’s for allegedly adding the new tax to his order before calculating other sales taxes and five days after a Schaumburg man sued Walgreens for allegedly taxing unsweetened sparkling water.

The county tax went into effect Aug. 2 and applies to nonalcoholic beverages that are either sugar- or artificially sweetened, including fountain drinks as well as bottled and canned beverages.

7-Eleven has been trying to boost summer sales of its freshly brewed hot coffee by encouraging consumers to fill Big Gulp cups with ice and then add coffee, says the lawsuit, citing a Convenience Store News story. The convenience store chain has advertised the promotion with in-store signs — including in the South Dearborn store — and on social media, the lawsuit says. The company’s website also promotes coffee on ice in a Big Gulp cup.

When Tarrant called to complain, the manager told her that the system automatically applies the sweetened beverage tax to all drinks bought in Big Gulp cups, regardless of the type of drink, the lawsuit says. She asked for a refund but didn’t get one, the suit alleges.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Chicago resident Yvan Wojtecki alleges he bought food at a McDonald’s franchise that day and paid 23 cents under the sweetened beverage tax. That 23 cents was combined with the pretax price for the rest…

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