In a case of national attention, Hangley Aronchick led the successful defense of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax.  

On July 18, 2018, by a vote of 4-2, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that the tax is a lawful exercise of the City’s local powers and rejected the extensive efforts by powerful industries to invalidate the tax.  The Supreme Court’s ruling is the capstone of a two-year litigation that saw Philadelphia register victories at every level of the case. Previously, in 2016, the Court of Common Pleas granted Philadelphia’s preliminary objections, tossing out all seven counts of the complaint.  In addition, in 2017, the Commonwealth Court, upheld the tax in a 5-2 en banc decision.

The beverage tax generates crucial revenues for the City of Philadelphia to fund thousands of seats for universal pre-kindergarten and critical improvements to community and recreation centers, among other important uses.  Dozens of organizations signed amicus briefs submitted to the Supreme Court, and countless national and regional media outlets covered the matter.

Shareholder Mark Aronchick said, “This is a crucial win for Philadelphia, enabling the City to continue to seek out and implement innovative ways to meet its own local needs.  The Sterling Act may have come out of the Great Depression, but it is every bit as important now as it has ever been.”

Shareholder John S. Stapleton added, “So much was on the line for all Philadelphians, especially Philadelphia’s kids.  We are proud to have teamed with the Law Department to validate the courage the City showed as it stood up to relentless pressure and did the right thing.”

Our team was led by Mark Aronchick and John S. Stapleton, along with Andrew Erdlen and former colleague Claudia De Palma. Our co-counsel were attorneys from Chamberlain Hrdlicka and the City of Philadelphia Law Department.

To read the Supreme Court’s opinion, please click here.

To read about prior developments in the case, please click here.