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Subway’s Soda Tax Class-Action Lawsuit Continues in Chicago

The legal drama goes on despite the tax ending in December

The soda tax lawsuit versus Subway continues.
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

A Chicago-based law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit against Subway, arguing the chain unfairly collected extra money from the sale of sugary drinks citing Cook County’s soon-to-be-defunct soda tax. Even though the Cook County board in September voted to rescind the controversial tax, the participants trudged on with their lawsuit, which was heard in federal court. The lawsuit — which federal judge last week kicked back to the local county level — claimed Subway employees were charging upwards of 20 cents more than the drink’s price.

The tax, which affected soda, unsweetened iced tea, and other drinks, went into effect on August 1. Locals didn’t respond well to the rationale behind the tax, as supporters claimed reduced sugar intake was a public health problem. Opponents felt the county was squeezing its residents.

In lieu of the commissioners’ vote, the county will continue to collect the tax only through December. The Zimmerman Law Offices filed many class-action cases in regards to the tax, reported Cook County Record. There are other similar lawsuits filed against McDonald’s, KFC, and PepsiCo. The McDonald’s case was dismissed in August. There are 49 Subway locations in Chicago, according to the chain’s website.

In court a September court appearance — before the board voted to abolish the tax — Subway’s attorneys told the judge that the chain would spend $100,000 to $5 million to upgrade its cash register systems to more accurately collect the tax. Many restaurants didn’t know how much to collect or which drinks were affected. Subway no longer needs to spend that money now that the tax is going away.