BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) – A class action lawsuit has been filed in Maryland against five major U.S. airlines and three Mexican airlines alleging the airlines fraudulently charged a tax to Mexican citizens.
According to the March 1 lawsuit, Mexican citizens like Noel Morgan Rojas claim the airlines knowingly implemented a "scheme" that added a "Mexican government tax" onto the plaintiffs' airline tickets when they flew to and from Mexico and the U.S.
The plaintiffs allege the tax, which was between $20 and $30, was "buried in the details of the costs and fees of each ticket" and listed as a Mexico Tourism Tax.
The lawsuit states the defendants Delta Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines and others charged the tax to every passenger who flew on the airline into Mexico, including those passengers who were exempt. Exempt travelers include Mexican citizens and passengers younger than 2 years old, the suit states.
The lawsuit states the airlines profited from the inflated cost of ticket prices and deprived the plaintiffs of "fair market price for air travel to Mexico."
The tax stems from an agreement the defendants negotiated through Camera Nacional de Aerotransportes (CANAERO) to which the airlines were or are now members, according to the lawsuit.
The original negotiators of the agreement "knew that the government of Mexico did not want or intend to have the agreement serve as a pretext for the airlines to collect the tax from exempt travelers," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also states the airlines and CANAERO "actively concealed" the details of the agreement from the public, the courts and had no disclosures regarding exempt travelers on their websites, passenger tickets or invoices.
According to the lawsuit, once the exempt passengers paid the tax, the airlines pocketed the money and did not give those who were exempt from the tax information on how to obtain a refund with some of the airlines setting up a "nearly impossible-to-find refund procedure" with a strict deadline to meet in order to receive a refund.
The plaintiffs allege five counts including violation of Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act, anti-trust price fixing under the Sherman Act, fraud and fraudulent omission or concealment, unjust enrichment and money had and received.
The plaintiffs seek damages, permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement of all proceeds and litigation fees. They are represented by Goldstein & Russell in Bethesda, Maryland; Prebeg, Faucett and Abbott in Houston; and others.