17 Bonkers (And Occasionally Relatable) Reasons Why People Sued Fast Food Places
In the present age, it’s actually not that strange to hear about really weird lawsuits and legal cases. You might think the high cost of lawyer fees and the extreme amount of wasted time would dissuade people from taking legal action, but no. Apparently, a lot of people have both the time and the money to sustain a lawsuit, even if their reasoning seems completely ludicrous.
That said, it’s not uncommon to hear about weird fast food lawsuits. Unfortunately, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that fast food places make their fair share of mistakes. But while some lawsuits are totally warranted, others seem a little bit over the top. And we’ve assembled a plethora of both the reasonable and the wacky fast food lawsuits below. You won’t believe some of these are real.
1. A man sued McDonald’s for only giving him one napkin.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Webster Lucas, a 59-year-old man in Pacoima, CA, brought a $1.5 million civil lawsuit against McDonald’s when the chain gave him only one napkin after a visit. He said his hands were dirty, and he suffered “undue mental anguish” from the experience. He told the Huffington Post, “I am an immaculately clean person.”
Lucas also stated that when he complained to the McDonald’s employee, she was aggressively rude to him. As a black man, Lucas felt that her words and actions were racially charged. He wanted the lawsuit to prompt the McDonald’s corporation to treat customers fairly. It’s unclear who ended up winning.
2. A man sued a variety of fast food chains for making him obese.
Let’s be real, when you eat fast food, you’re not necessarily trying to eat healthily.
In fact, it seems pretty fair to say that the majority of people who fast food know they’re eating something that’s potentially bad for them. But 56-year-old Caesar Barber decided that his obesity was caused by chains like Wendy’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and McDonald’s. He ate at those places about four times a week.
In 2002, Barber filed a class action lawsuit against all of those chains in New York. He claimed they didn’t properly disclose the unhealthy nature of the food, and consequently, they contributed to his obesity and health problems. He previously contracted diabetes and had two heart attacks. In 2003, the case was dismissed without prejudice.
3. Starbucks allegedly put too much ice in their iced drinks.
In 2016, a small group brought a class action lawsuit against Starbucks.
They claimed the chain’s iced drinks were nearly half ice and accused the company of fraud, “breach of express warranty, breach of implied warrant of merchantability, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment.” The lead plaintiff, Stacy Pincus, said that people who bought iced drinks didn’t actually get the 12, 16, 24, or 30 ounces of beverage because of the ice.
The judge dismissed the case, though, and said people should realize their iced drinks would contain ice. Seems pretty fair!
4. A woman sued Jimmy John’s because there were no sprouts on her sandwich.
It’s really annoying when you order food and something is left out of your order.
And most people either suck it up and ignore it or go back to the restaurant to get whatever’s missing. But when Jimmy John’s forgot to put sprouts on her sandwich, Heather Starks of California, decided to sue the restaurant. She claimed “that she purchased sandwiches advertised in online and in-store menus, among other places, as including sprouts, which did not in fact include sprouts.”
Jimmy John’s denied the claims of fraud, but they did settle the case with her.
5. A man sued Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for not using real fruit in their desserts.
It’s pretty safe to say that if you’re ordering donuts from a huge chain like Krispy Kreme, you might not always get farm-fresh ingredients.
In 2016, Jason Saidian of Los Angeles, CA, decided to sue the donut place over this for $5 million in damages. Saidian claimed Krispy Kreme falsely advertised the ingredients in their fruit-filled and maple-glazed donuts. He said the donuts didn’t contain real fruit or maple. He alleged that wouldn’t have bought the donuts if he knew they didn’t have real fruit. The case, however, was voluntarily dismissed in 2017.
6. A woman sued Burger King over 20 cents.
Is a difference of 20 cents really worth an entire legal battle?
Apparently, one New York woman thought so. She sought $100 in damages from Burger King after realizing that the location three blocks from her home sold a large Coke for 89 cents, while the one six blocks from her home priced the same drink at 69 cents. She said she was pursuing legal action because she had to walk two extra blocks to save the 20 cents. Burger King didn’t even bother to show up to the court appearance, but the company still won the case.
7. McDonald’s was sued for serving hot coffee that was too hot.
Back in 1992, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck, from Albuquerque, NM, sued McDonald’s for serving coffee that was way too hot.
Liebeck was sitting in her car when she spilled a cup of the chain’s coffee on her lap. The drink was so hot that she landed in the hospital for seven days with third-degree burns on her inner thighs, groin, and buttocks. Liebeck contacted McDonald’s to see if they would reimburse her medical bills, but the case ended up in court. For good reason, though, Liebeck won. The drink was scalding.
In the end, Liebeck got $160,000 for compensatory damages as well as an additional $2.7 million for punitive damages. That amount, however, was later reduced to $480,000.
8. McDonald’s also got sued for putting cheese on a Quarter Pounder.
Who knew cheese was such a contentious topic?
Two Florida residents, Cynthia Kissner and Leonard Werner, ordered Quarter Pounder burgers with cheese, but they wanted the cheese removed. Apparently, the McDonald’s employees didn’t remove the cheese, and the two individuals didn’t want to pay more money for a topping they didn’t want. To show their disapproval, Kissner and Werner sued the fast food chain. Yes, we’re just as confused as you are; there are so many questions here! Needless to say, McDonald’s ended up winning the case.
9. A customer sued Papa John’s for sending him text messages.
No one likes being bombarded with spam text messages.
But Jonathan Anozie really didn’t like it, so he decided to sue. Anozie received multiple automated marketing system texts from Papa John. He didn’t appreciate the offers for discounted pies, though. And eventually, he charged Papa John’s for $500 per unwanted text.
Anozie claimed he responded “STOP” multiple times, but the messages (which were apparently in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act) just kept coming. He also claimed the texts made him “suffer a significant amount of anxiety, frustration, and annoyance.”
10. A woman sued KFC for under-filling a bucket of chicken.
No one likes to be cheated out of free food.
And New Yorker Anna Wurtzburger decided to do something about the injustice. In 2016, she sued KFC for $20 million because the chain allegedly under-filled her order of fried chicken. Wurtzburger said the bucket was only half full even though it was supposed to be enough to fill a whole family. The woman complained and got two gift certificates out of the deal, but she wasn’t satisfied. She pursued legal action, but the courts eventually dismissed the suit.
11. White Castle allegedly had booths that were too small.
In 2009, stockbroker Martin Kessman went to White Castle to sit down and have a meal.
He found, though, that booths couldn’t hold his 290-pound frame. Kessman told The New York Post, “They’re stationary booths. I’m not humungous, [but] I’m a big guy. I could not wedge myself in.” He said he could not find a table and chairs that could accommodate him. And apparently, when he complained, White Castle responded with “very condescending letters.”
The dissatisfied customer also claimed the booths violated the civil rights of overweight people; he noted that the Americans with Disabilities Act was “applicable, not only to [him] but to pregnant women and to handicapped people.” Kessman sued for bigger chairs and unspecified damages.
12. Starbucks was sued for under-filling lattes.
In 2016, Starbucks received another class-action lawsuit.
This one was filed in Northern California, and it claimed Starbucks knowingly and regularly served lattes that were 25 percent smaller than they were supposed to be. The suit claimed Starbucks “saved countless millions of dollars in the cost of goods sold and was unjustly enriched by taking payment for more product than it delivers.” The suit also said there was too much foam.
In the end, the judge dismissed the case, saying that reasonable customers should expect foam to take up some of the room in their drinks. Fair enough!
13. A woman sued Dunkin’ Donuts for using beef patties instead of real steak in their sandwiches.
If you’re ordering steak from Dunkin’ Donuts, you probably shouldn’t expect a fine cut of beef.
But in 2017, Dunkin’ got sued for exactly that. Chufen Chen, from Queens, NY, filed a lawsuit against the chain for their Angus Steak & Egg sandwich. Chen claimed the Angus steak was actually just an Angus Beef Patty. She felt Dunkin’ falsely advertised a better quality of meat. Furthermore, the lawsuit suggested that anyone who ordered the sandwich was a victim of false advertising.
The chain argued that their ingredient list was available to all customers, though. And a verdict still hasn’t passed.
14. A man sued Popeyes for not giving him a knife to cut his chicken.
And apparently, Mississippi resident Paul Newton Jr. needed that knife.
The man claimed he choked on his chicken because he couldn’t properly cut his food. Newton allegedly only received a spork with his order, so instead of breaking the dish into small portions or asking for a knife, he ate a large piece of fried chicken with his hands. Consequently, he sought financial compensation for his pain, suffering, and medical expenses.
In the end, Newton dropped the suit.
15. Wendy’s was infamously sued after someone found a finger in an order of chili.
Who can forget when, in 2005, a woman claimed to find a human fingertip in her Wendy’s chili.
Anna Ayala’s experience was horrifying! People were thoroughly disgusted, and Wendy’s received tons of negative press. In fact, the chain reportedly lost more than $21 million in sales. In the end, though, Ayala ended up admitting to fraud. Apparently, her husband, Jaime Plascencia, got the severed finger from a co-worker who lost it in an industrial accident, and Ayala placed it in her chili.
The couple pleaded guilty, and Ayala received a nine-year prison sentence. She only served four because of her good behavior.
16. Carl’s Jr. sued Jack in the Box over an ad campaign.
Sometimes fast food chains end up suing each other.
That was the case when Carl’s Jr. sued rival Jack in the Box for an ad campaign that implied that Carl’s Jr. made their burgers out of anus meat. Carl’s Jr. advertised that their burgers have Angus beef, and Jack in the Box decided to play on the similarity of the two words. The offended burger chain sued and claimed potential customers wouldn’t realize that Angus beef didn’t actually come from a cow’s anus.
In 2007, though, a judge denied the injunction to stop the ads from running. So, hopefully, people figured it out on their own!
17. A dad sued McDonald’s for promoting Happy Meals to kids.
Happy Meals are for kids, right?
Consequently, it seems to make sense that Happy Meal advertisements would target kids. But in 2018, Quebec resident Antonio Bramante sued McDonald’s for attempting to sell the meals to children. He said that his three kids always beg for Happy Meals because they can easily see the signature meal’s toys. Bramante filed a class-action lawsuit against the company for advertising to kids, because in Quebec, it’s illegal to advertise to anyone under 13. The verdict, however, is still out.