Los Angeles, CA: A consumer fraud class action lawsuit has been filed against several airlines by a group of Mexican nationals who allege they have been forced to pay a "Mexico tourism tax" they weren't obligated to pay. The plaintiffs claim they have paid millions of dollars in this tax to airlines including United Airlines Inc. and Delta Airlines Inc.
The lawsuit claims violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, specifically that the airlines wrongfully charged the plaintiffs, including children under the age of 2 who took flights between the US and Mexico, $20 to $25 for the Mexico Tourism Tax. They allege the airlines fraudulently represent to passengers that the Mexican government requires them to collect the tax, then keep the proceeds.
The Mexican tax is mandatory charged to certain travelers who arrive in Mexico on flights originating outside the county. However, Mexican nationals, residents and children under the age of two are exempt from the tax, according to the suit.
According to the allegations, an arrangement was reached between the airlines and the government in June 1999 to collect the tax but was actively concealed from the public by the defendants for many years. The airlines knew which passengers wouldn't be subject to the tax because they would know their passport numbers and nationalities once they purchased their tickets, according to the complaint.
"Under the agreement, the defendants agreed to have mechanisms in place to distinguish the cases in which the Mexico tourism tax does not apply,"the suit states. "ince 1999 (or about the dates that each defendant began operating flights to/from Mexico), rather than collect only the tax that should have been charged ... the defendants on information and belief, have obtained, retained, and reinvested those improperly collected taxes into their respective operations."
Other airlines named as defendants in the proposed class action are American Airlines Inc., AeroVias de Mexico SA de CV, Concesionaria Vuela Compania de Aviacion, SAPI de CV, ABC Aerolineas SA de CV, and US Airways Inc.
The plaintiffs seek to represent a class of Mexican nationals, guardians of children under the age of two at the time of travel and foreigners with resident status in Mexico who flew between the U.S. and Mexico beginning in June 1999.
The plaintiffs are represented by Oliver Maner LLP, Williams Kherkher Hart Boundas LLP, Prebeg Faucett & Abbott PLLC, Sommers Schwartz PC, Law Office of Mark E. Lewis, Law Office of Carol S. Butner, and Lovett Bennett Jr.
The case is Almanza et al. v. United Airlines, Inc. et al., case number 2:15-cv-00033 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.