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Verdicts & Settlements

Federal Judges Dismisses Bryon Allen, Allen Media Group’s $100m Lawsuit Against McDonald’s

— February 7, 2024

In its ruling, the court found that Allen has so far failed to produce any evidence indicating that his claim is likely to succeed.

A federal judge has dismissed Byron Allen and the Allen Media Group’s $100 million lawsuit against McDonald’s.

As has reported before, Allen had earlier accused the fast-food company of breaking its promise to allocate a larger share of its advertising budget to Black-owned television channels and other entertainment outlets.

“During the Black Lives Matter movement, hundreds of corporations made pledges to Black America,” Allen said in a statement shared with Reuters. “McDonald’s is one of those corporations that has lied and made false promises.”

However, in a February hearing, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge determined that Allen’s legal filings were—at the very least—unlikely to withstand further scrutiny.

Allen’s claim, writes Variety, seemed to selectively interpret comments that McDonald’s made in a 2021 press release. In its release, McDonald’s said that it would increase its overall internal funding for Black-owned businesses.

McDonald’s sign. Image via Flickr/user:jeepersmedia (Mike Mozart). (CCA-BY-2.0).

Since filing, attorneys for both parties have purportedly “parsed every word of [the] McDonald’s statement.” McDonald’s, for its part, insisted that statements made in a press release cannot necessarily be construed as a form of contractual obligation.

In a declaration to the court, Allen Media Group’s chief revenue officer, Darren Galatt, indicated that the company had requested that McDonald’s dedicate some $30 million to advertising on Black-owned networks—an offer that McDonald’s rejected, before later agreeing to a much lower amount.

According to Galatt, McDonald’s would have had to spend about $25 million to meet its goal of giving more resources to Black-owned media.

Nevertheless, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mel Recana said that—even if Galatt’s testimony reflects an understanding or agreement between McDonald’s and the Allen Media Group—there is still ample time for McDonald’s to follow through on its promise.

“It is purely speculative to conclude Defendant will not perform on its promise even if Defendant has not yet committed the amount needed in spending,” Recana wrote.

McDonald’s quickly moved to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that Allen Media Group’s claim could pose constitutional problems, insofar as the complaint suggests that McDonald’s should be held liable for non-binding promise made in a press release.

Recana then ruled in favor of McDonald’s, saying that Allen Media Group did not at any point dispute that the release simply constituted a public statement made in relation to a public issue—that of the Black Lives Matter.

The court also discarded arguments that the restaurant chain had sought to manipulate public opinion to increase its sales, since Allen’s lawsuit “failed to show that … broad statements” about increased support for the Black community were tied to a sales promotion or otherwise associated with McDonald’s food products.

“Being ‘good for business’ can mean any number of things, such as establishing goodwill, rather than specifically promoting or securing sales,” Recana wrote.

Variety notes that the Allen Media Group has already signaled that it plans to appeal the decision.

In the meantime, Allen and his company will continue to litigate a separate $10 billion lawsuit against McDonald’s.


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