'Speculation' about Cook County 'pop tax' proves accurate

By The Madison County Record | Aug 15, 2017

“As to the concerns that improper collection of the tax will open the Merchants up to litigation, any such notion is merely speculation at this point and does not render the Ordinance unconstitutionally vague.”


“As to the concerns that improper collection of the tax will open the Merchants up to litigation, any such notion is merely speculation at this point and does not render the Ordinance unconstitutionally vague.”

That's what Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak said when he lifted the temporary restraining order delaying the implementation of Cook County's new tax on sweetened beverages.

Mere speculation? In Illinois, the land of litigation? You could have made a bet on how soon the first lawsuit would be filed against a retailer alleged to have applied the tax to an unsweetened beverage.

Two days! That's all the time it took for the first suit to be filed. 

On Aug. 4, just two days after the tax took effect, a self-appointed guardian of the public interest named Vincent de Leon filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Deerfield-based Walgreens, seeking restitution of taxes collected from him or any other customer on beverages not covered by the county ordinance. 

Speaking of speculation, one might safely speculate that de Leon and his attorney, Elizabeth Fegan of Chicago's Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, were planning to file their suit even as the judge was dismissing such an idea as speculative.

Speculation, in fact, is exactly what de Leon and Fegan are engaging in as they try to make some fast bucks at the expense of Walgreens and its customers.

Speculation is also what Cook County officials were engaging in when they first sued and then dropped the lawsuit against the supermarkets and the retail association that sought the restraining order, trying to hold the merchants liable for $17 million in revenue the County estimates that it lost during the single month delay of the tax that so quickly spawned a merely speculative lawsuit.

If Cook County keeps imposing unreasonable burdens on businesses and enticing attorneys to file suits against them, eventually those businesses will close or move elsewhere, and that's not a matter of speculation.

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