Loeffler v. Target
California consumers in this case alleged that Target violated the law when it imposed sales tax reimbursement charges on their purchases of hot coffee to-go, which are exempt from taxation under California’s tax code. (While the consumers’ receipts says “sales tax,” Target was actually charging them for sales tax reimbursement.) The plaintiffs claimed that Target’s practice violated California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act — consistently recognized by courts as among the strongest consumer protection laws in the country. At Public Justice’s urging, the California Supreme Court granted review of an appeals court ruling that left consumers without any meaningful remedy for a large category of unfair business practices because. The appeals court found that a provision of the state Constitution bars consumers from suing companies for charging sales taxes on tax-exempt items. But Public Justice’s briefs demonstrated that the constitutional “safe harbor” provision at issue did not apply either to consumers or to private retailers. Staff Attorney Leslie Bailey is lead counsel on the appeal. Plaintiffs are also represented by Public Justice’s Senior Attorney Vicky Ni and Executive Director Arthur Bryant, with assistance from Senior Attorney Paul Bland. Co-counsel are Joseph Lange and Jeffrey Koncius of Lange & Koncius in El Segundo, Calif.