US Judge Rejects Burger King's Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit Alleging Misleading Whopper Sizes
A U.S. district judge has declined Burger King's motion to dismiss a lawsuit that claims the fast-food chain deceived its customers by presenting its Whopper sandwich as larger than it truly is.
Judge Roy Altman of the U.S. District Court in Miami has ruled that Burger King must address allegations that its portrayal of Whoppers on in-store menu boards led reasonable customers to a false understanding, potentially constituting a breach of contract.
In this proposed class action, customers contend that Burger King depicted burgers with ingredients that overflowed beyond the bun, creating the illusion that the burgers were 35% larger and contained more than double the amount of meat than they actually did. Burger King, a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International, countered by asserting that it wasn't obligated to provide burgers that precisely matched the promotional images. However, the judge asserted that it should be left to a jury to determine "what reasonable people think."
In his ruling, publicly disclosed on Friday, Judge Altman also permitted the customers to pursue claims based on negligence and unjust enrichment.
Claims related to TV and online advertisements were dismissed on the grounds that Burger King did not explicitly promise a certain "size" or weight of the patty, and thus did not fail to deliver on this promise. On Tuesday, Burger King issued a statement asserting that the plaintiffs' claims were inaccurate, and that the flame-grilled beef patties depicted in their advertising were the same ones used in the millions of Whopper sandwiches served to customers nationwide.
A representative for the plaintiffs was not immediately available for comment. Previous attempts to reach a settlement through mediation were unsuccessful.
In a parallel legal scenario, McDonald's and Wendy's are also defending themselves against a comparable lawsuit in the federal court of Brooklyn, New York. The lawyer for the plaintiffs in that case referenced Judge Altman's opinion to bolster the argument for allowing the case to proceed. Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum Brands, also faced a lawsuit in the same Brooklyn court last month, alleging that its Crunchwraps and Mexican pizzas contained only half the amount of filling as advertised.
Each of these lawsuits seeks damages of at least $5 million.