Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Tax Law
Robinson v. Villines
A taxpayer class filed an illegal-exaction complaint. The case was remanded for the circuit court to ascertain a remedy consistent with the Supreme Court's decision that the taxpayers had proved a valid claim for illegal exaction of increased ad valorem library taxes for the 2007 ad valorem tax year. In this appeal, the taxpayers contended that the circuit court erred in applying the voluntary-payment rule to class members who paid the tax in question prior to the date the complaint for illegal exaction was filed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without prejudice, holding that the order appealed was not a final order and did not contain specific factual findings of any danger of hardship or injustice that could be alleviated by an immediate appeal, and therefore, the Court lacked jurisdiction over the appeal. View "Robinson v. Villines" on Justia Law
State ex rel. Collector of Winchester v. Circuit Court (Jamison)
The city of Winchester and its collector (Winchester) filed a class action lawsuit against Charter Communications on behalf of itself and other similarly situated Missouri municipal corporations and political subdivisions, seeking a declaratory judgment requiring Charter and other telephone service providers to comply with ordinances requiring them to pay a license tax on gross receipts derived from fees and services connected to their operations and an order requiring Charter to pay all license taxes owed to the class. The circuit court struck Winchester's claims on the basis of Mo. Rev. Stat. 71.675, which bars cities and towns from serving as class representatives in suits to enforce or collect business license taxes imposed on telecommunications companies. The Supreme Court quashed the court's preliminary writ of prohibition and granted Winchester's request for a permanent writ of mandamus directing the trial court to vacate its order, holding that the court exceeded its authority in striking Winchester's class action allegations pursuant to section 71.675, as the statute violated Mo. Const. art. V, 5 because it amended a procedural rule of the Court. View "State ex rel. Collector of Winchester v. Circuit Court (Jamison)" on Justia Law
Twp. of Lyndhurst v. Priceline.com Inc.
The Township brought a putative class action on behalf of itself and similarly situated New Jersey municipalities, alleging that defendants, companies who operate hotel booking sites online, owe unpaid hotel occupancy taxes. Defendants calculate the tax owed based on the negotiated rate paid by a defendant (wholesale rate), not the higher rate charged consumers (retail rate). Defendants pay the tax to the hotel, which remits it to the state taxing authority.The district court dismissed on grounds of prudential standing, holding that state officials have the right to enforce the statutory tax scheme. The Third Circuit affirmed. The Township is not the proper plaintiff. Authority to adopt a hotel tax is granted municipalities by N.J. Stat. 40:48F-1, but administration and collection are left to state officials.
Ardon v. City of Los Angeles
Plaintiff, a resident of Los Angeles, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and similarly situated individuals challenging the city's telephone users tax (TUT) and seeking refund of funds collected under the TUT over the previous two years. At issue was whether the Government Code section 910 allowed taxpayers to file a class action claim against a municipal government entity for the refund of local taxes. The court held that neither Woosley v. State of California, which concerned the interpretation of statutes other than section 910, nor article XIII, section 32 of the California Constitution, applied to the court's determination of whether section 910 permitted class claims that sought the refund of local taxes. Therefore, the court held that the reasoning in City of San Jose v. Superior Court, which permitted a class claim against a municipal government in the context of an action for nuisance under section 910, also permitted taxpayers to file a class claim seeking the refund of local taxes under the same statute. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
Marple, et al v. T-Mobile Central LLC
T-Mobile Central LLC ("T-Mobile") sued Missouri municipalities for refund of certain tax payments that it had paid under protest and filed ten separate lawsuits seeking to recoup tax payments made within ten specific time periods. Appellees brought ten separate class action suits against T-Mobile in state court for passing the contested tax onto customers and sought to recover any money that the Missouri municipalities refunded to T-Mobile. At issue was whether the district court had jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(6), to remand the ten class actions to the state court from which they were removed. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court and held that there was no indication that appellees artificially divided the lawsuit to avoid the CAFA where the structure of appellees' class actions exactly mirrored the underlying ten lawsuits brought by T-Mobile and were driven by T-Mobile's own litigation decisions.
AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion
Respondents filed a complaint against AT&T Mobility LLC ("AT&T"), which was later consolidated with a putative class action, alleging that AT&T had engaged in false advertising and fraud by charging sales tax on phones it advertised as free. AT&T moved to compel arbitration under the terms of its contract with respondents and respondents opposed the motion contending that the arbitration agreement was unconscionable and unlawfully exculpatory under California law because it disallowed classwide procedures. The district court denied AT&T's motion in light of Discover Bank v. Superior Court and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. At issue was whether the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. 2, prohibited states from conditioning the enforceability of certain arbitration agreements on the availability of classwide arbitration procedures. The Court held that, because it "stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress," quoting Hines v. Davidowitz, California's Discover Bank rule was preempted by the FAA. Therefore, the Court reversed the Ninth Circuit's ruling and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.