Jon Campisi Jan. 24, 2012, 7:31am

A Philadelphia man has filed a class action lawsuit against the Famous Dave’s restaurant franchise, alleging the business has been engaging in fraud when it has charged an 18 percent tax on alcoholic beverages it serves to customers.

In his complaint, which was filed Jan. 23 at federal court in Philadelphia by attorneys Michael Coren, James P. Goslee and Matthew T. Stone of the firm Cohen, Placitella & Roth, Alan Johnson claims that Famous Dave’s of America Inc., and its parent company, New Jersey-based Pit Masters, is illegally charging patrons an extra levy on adult beverages purchased at the restaurant chain.

The lawsuit claims that as per Philadelphia ordinance, the restaurant is only allowed to charge a 10 percent tax on liquor, not the 18 percent tax on each beverage that Johnson was charged while dining at the South Philadelphia Famous Dave’s location on Nov. 29 of this year.

“At the time of purchase, plaintiff reasonably relied on the management of Famous Dave’s to provide an accurate calculation of the applicable charges and taxes presented to him on his bill,” the lawsuit states. “At some point after paying his bill and leaving the restaurant, Plaintiff noticed that his bill appeared higher than it should have been.”

The lawsuit claims that after Johnson called management at the Philadelphia restaurant to inquire about the 18 percent liquor tax, he was told that that was “what they had always done.”

Johnson’s lawsuit claims that restaurants operating in the city are only legally allowed to charge a 10 percent tax on liquor as per a city ordinance that was passed in January 1995.

“Liquor, malt and brewed alcohol beverages sold at Famous Dave’s restaurant locations in Philadelphia County are and were subject to 10 % Philadelphia Liquor Tax,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit names potential class members as anyone who dined at a Philadelphia Famous Dave’s location between 2006 and the present and who purchased alcoholic beverages at the restaurants.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices Law and consumer protection laws.

The suit also contains counts of conversion, fraud and negligence.

The lawsuit claims that Johnson and others similarly situated suffered monetary damages due to the alleged violations on the part of the defendants.

The plaintiff seeks unspecified compensatory damages, injunctive relief preventing the defendants from overcharging customers for the Philadelphia Liquor Tax, class action certification and other court relief.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:12-cv-00344-MAM.

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