TO: All individuals who (a) on or after June 8, 2007, purchased any item(s) from a Walmart store in Pennsylvania that was subject to payment of sales tax, (b) received any discount on that item or those items by virtue of a "buy one, get one free" discount or coupon, a store coupon, or a manufacturer's coupon, and (c) was charged or paid sales tax on the original purchase price of the item(s) without deducting the amount of the discount before calculating the sales tax due.
A COURT AUTHORIZED THIS NOTICE. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer. YOU ARE NOT BEING SUED.
Brian Fameth sued Walmart Stores, Inc. ("Walmart"), on behalf of himself and all persons who used a coupon when they purchased a taxable item at a Pennsylvania Walmart store after June 8, 2007. Mr. Farneth alleges that Walmart engaged in a pattern and practice of deceptively overcharging sales tax on the value of coupons tendered for the purchase of taxable goods. He contends that the value of those coupons should have been deducted before the sales tax was calculated. Walmart denies that it did anything wrong, and claims that it properly collected the tax as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
Mr. Farneth has requested a jury trial, but no trial date has yet been set.
If you shopped at a Pennsylvania Walmart store after June 8, 2007 and used a coupon in purchasing a taxable item (whether a manufacturer's coupon, store coupon, or "buy one get one free" discount or coupon), you are considered a member of the class of persons whose rights may have been affected by Walmart's actions. You have options you may exercise before the Court holds a trial, as summarized above under the heading "Your Legal Rights and Options." The trial is to decide whether the claims made against Walmart, on your behalf, are correct. Judge Robert J. Colville, of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, is overseeing this Class Action.
This lawsuit was commenced on June 18, 2013. In general terms, the Complaint alleges that Pennsylvania law and regulations require retailers like Walmart to deduct the value of coupons tendered before calculating the amount of sales tax owed on the purchase. The Complaint also contends that Walmart's receipts were structured in such a way that the receipts caused confusion and misunderstanding as to the basis for the sales tax. Mr. Farneth also contends that Walmart had the capability to allow its cash register system to deduct the value of the coupon before chargingsales tax, but elected not to do so and did not advise the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue of the capability. Walmart denies that it did anything wrong, and contends that based on the information it provided to the Department of Revenue, it received an opinion from the Department allowing Walmart to collect the tax. This is only a summary. You can obtain more detailed information as set forth later in this Notice.
In a Class Action lawsuit, one or more people, called "Class Representatives" (in this case Brian Farneth) sue on behalf of themselves and others who have similar claims. All of these people together are called a "Class" or "Class Members." Walmart is called the Defendant. In a Class Action, one court resolves the issues for everyone in the Class, except for those who choose to exclude themselves from the Class. On March 21, 2017, the Court decided this case should proceed as a Class Action because the Court found that the lawsuit meets the requirements of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure which govern Class Actions. In general, the Court found that there are legal questions and facts common to all Class Members, that the claims of Brian Farneth which are part of this Class Action are typical of the claims of the rest of the Class, that these common questions are more important than questions affecting only individuals, and that the Class Action will be more efficient than thousands of individual lawsuits. The Court also found that Mr. Farneth, and the attorneys representing the Class, will fairly and adequately represent the interests of the Class.
The Court has not decided whether the Class or Walmart is correct. By authorizing this Notice, the Court is not suggesting which party will win or lose this case.
The Class Representative is asking the Court and/or a jury to find that Walmart misappropriated money belonging to its customers by engaging in a pattern of unfair trade practices which resulted in overcharging sales tax. The Class Representative is asking the Court and/or a jury to require Walmart to reimburse all Class Members for their losses, and in addition, to pay all Class Members a statutory damage under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law in an amount of up to $100 per transaction or person. The Class Representative also seeks payment of all counsel fees from Walmart, and may ask the Court to award counsel fees and costs of suit if the lawsuit is successful or settles. If money or benefits are obtained, you will be notified about how that money or benefits will be reimbursed to the Class, if you are a Class Member.
Judge Colville decided that the Class consists of all individuals who (a) on or after June 8, 2007, purchased any item(s) from a Walmart store in Pennsylvania that was subject to payment of sales tax, (b) received any discount on that item or those items by virtue of a "buy one, get one free" discount or coupon, a store coupon, or a manufacturer's coupon, and (c) was charged or paid sales tax on the original purchase price of the item(s) without deducting the amount of the discount before calculating the sales tax due.
If you meet the above criteria, you are a member of the Class unless you choose to exclude yourself as set forth below. If for some reason you do not meet the above criteria, you are not a member of the Class, even though you received this Notice. If you are not sure whether you are a Class Member, you can get free help by calling or writing to Class Counsel at the phone number or address listed below. DO NOT CALL THE COURT
If you are in fact a Class Member, you do not have to do anything now if you want to remain a member of the Class and retain the possibility of receiving money or benefits from this lawsuit. BY DOING NOTHING YOU ARE STAYING IN THE CLASS. If you are in the Class and stay in it, you will be bound by all orders and judgments made in this Class Action, regardless of who wins. If the Plaintiffs obtain money or benefits, either as a result of trial or settlement, you will be notified about how this money or benefits will be distributed. If there is a settlement you will have the ability to object before the Court approves any settlement.
If you already have a lawsuit against Walmart for similar claims and want to continue with it, or if you do not agree with the claims made in this lawsuit, you may ask to be excluded from the Class.If you remove yourself from the Class (sometimes called "opting out" of the Class), you will not get money or benefits from this law suit even if Plaintiffs obtain them as a result of the trial or a settlement. However, you may be able to sue or make a claim against Walmart on your own. If you start your own lawsuit or claim against Walmart after you exclude yourself, you will have to independently prove your claims, and you may have to hire and pay your own lawyer. If you do choose to exclude yourself, you should talk to your lawyer soon, because your claims may be subject to a statute of limitations.
To be excluded, you must send an "Opt-Out Request" in the form of a letter sent by U.S. Mail, stating that you want to be excluded from Farneth v. Walmart Stores, Inc. Be sure to include your name, address, and telephone number.The letter must be signed by you. You must mail your Opt Out Request postmarked by May 15, 2018 to: Farneth v. Walmart Opt-Outs, c/o Frank G. Salpietro, Esquire, Rothman Gordon, P.C., 310 Grant Street - 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
The Court has certified the Pittsburgh law firm of Rothman Gordon, P.C. as Class Counsel. These are the lawyers who represent the Class Members. You do not need to hire an attorney because Class Counsel is working on your behalf if you are a Class Member. If you want your own lawyer, you will have to pay that lawyer. You can ask him or her to appear in a Court for you if you want someone other than Class Counsel to speak for you.
If Class Counsel obtains money or benefits for the Class, they will ask the Court for fees and expenses. You will not have to pay these fees and expenses directly. The fees and expenses will either be paid as agreed by the parties or as directed by the Court. You will receive notice of this request and will have an opportunity to be heard by the Court, if you desire.
Unless the case is settled or otherwise resolved, a trial is likely to begin in 2018. During the trial, a jury and a judge will hear all of the evidence and decide who is right. You may not need to attend the trial or any proceeding before the Court, but you are certainly welcome to attend. If at some point the Plaintiffs obtain money or benefits as a result of the trial or settlement, you will be notified about how to participate. We do not know how long this will take.
Do Not Call The Court. You can get more information or answers to any other questions by contacting one of the attorneys working on this Class Action as follows:
Frank G. Salpietro, Esquire
Ryan P. Stewart, Esquire
Mark S. Weis, Esquire
Rothman Gordon, P.C.
310 Grant Street - 3rd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(412) 338-1115 - Phone
(412) 246-1785 - Fax
AUTHORIZED BY THE COURT:
/s/ Robert J. Colville, J.
Court of Common Pleas of
Allegheny County Pennsylvania