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Federal Judge Scraps False Advertising Claims Against McDonald’s, Wendy’s

— October 5, 2023

In his ruling, the Brooklyn-based judge opined that most people understand that companies try to make menu items appear appetizing in advertising materials.

A Brooklyn-based federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing both Wendy’s and McDonald’s of exaggerating the size of some of the best-known burgers.

According to CNN, the 19-page decision was issued over the weekend by Judge Hector Gonzalez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

In his ruling, Gonzalez said that he did not find that the defendants had delivered smaller burgers than advertised, nor did he find that they had misled consumers.

Gonzalez also said that it was not entirely clear whether the plaintiff, Justin Chimienti of New York, had even seen the advertisements for the Wendy’s Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger and the McDonald’s Big Mac cited as examples in his lawsuit.

Both companies’ attempts to “present appetizing images of their products are no different than other companies’ use of visually appealing images to foster positive associates with their products,” Gonzalez wrote.

As has reported before, Chimienti first filed his lawsuit against the fast-food chains in 202, saying that he had purchased meals from different Wendy’s and McDonald’s locations, finding that many of their signature burgers “were much smaller than advertised and he was financially damaged as a result.”

“Defendants advertise larger portions of food to steer consumers to their restaurants for their meals and away from competitors that more fairly advertise the size of their burgers and menu items, unfairly diverting millions of dollars in sales that would have gone to competitors,” the proposed class action lawsuit said.

Chimienti and his lawyers suggested that the companies likely included images of undercooked beef patties in their advertising materials to make the burgers look bigger.

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

“Wendy’s materially overstates the amount of toppings and the size of the beef patties for nearly every menu item in its current advertisements,” the lawsuit said.”

“McDonald’s also materially overstates the size of its beef patties using the same deceptive practice as Wendy’s,” it added.

James C. Kelly, an attorney for the plaintiff, had earlier said that companies like Wendy’s and McDonald’s should be held accountable for deceiving consumers.

“There is no good reason why Wendy’s and McDonald’s should be allowed to use trickery in their advertising,” he told FOX Business in an email statement sent at the time of the filing. “We hope that through these class actions, these iconic companies will recognize the unfairness of their advertising and make positive changes.”

CNN notes that “food litigation” is a “fast-growing area of law,” with numerous other chains and outlets facing similar claims.

Burger King, for example, is still litigating another class action suggesting that it exaggerated the size of its Whopper burger, among other sandwiches.

While a judge has refused to dismiss the claim against Burger King, the company’s attorneys insist that “reasonable consumers viewing food advertising know” that food in advertisements “has been styled to make it look as appetizing as possible.”


False Advertising Suit Against McDonald’s and Wendy’s Is Dismissed

McDonald’s and Wendy’s win false advertising lawsuit

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