In addition to the direct health issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, given the economic disruption the pandemic has caused, it is obvious that the pandemic will indirectly be giving rise to countless legal issues (for instance, in the construction/real estate field alone, with government mandates halting some projects and granting waivers as to others, and with issues related to supply chain, employee safety, construction disputes, defaults, loans, and leases, there will be important questions up for decision for a long time to come). As exemplified by the case of McLean v. Big Lots Inc., No. 2:20-CV-02000-MJH, 2021 WL 2317417 (W.D. Pa. June 7, 2021), however, there will also be COVID-19-related cases concerning far less momentous topics.
In McLean, the plaintiffs in a putative class action asserted claims under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law ("UTPCPL"), 73 P.S. §§ 201-1 et seq., against defendants Big Lots, Inc., Dollar General Corp., Jo-Ann Stores, LLC, Home Depot, Inc., and Wal-Mart, Inc., alleging that the defendants charged sales tax on otherwise exempt protective face masks. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant retailers knowingly, negligently, or deceptively falsely advertised the price of protective face masks, representing that protective face masks were subject to Pennsylvania sales tax and collecting the tax from the plaintiffs. In fact, under sales tax exemptions for medical supplies and clothing, 72 P.S. §§ 7202, 7204, the masks were not subject to sales tax.Read More