McDonald's Sounds the Alarm: 'Utter Chaos' If a Judge Lets This 'Nonsense' Lawsuit Continue

Maybe you even laughed? A lot of people did. But it turns out, McDonald’s apparently thinks the thing is no joke.

In fact, McDonald’s lawyers told a judge recently that the lawsuit could create “utter chaos” if it’s allowed to go forward–not just for McDonald’s, but for every other restaurant in America.

High stakes then. Here’s the background, the official response from McDonald’s, and the big question this all leads to. 

Less cheese equals “unjust enrichment”

First, the lawsuit. Back in May, two Florida McDonald’s customers sued McDonald’s, claiming that they often order Quarter Pounders and Double Quarter Pounders without cheese–but that McDonald’s never gives them a discount.

Apparently there’s a dispute over whether McDonald’s lists Quarter Pounders without cheese on its menu–or whether it did at one time. Personally, I haven’t eaten a Quarter Pounder in years, so I couldn’t tell you. 

But the lawsuit claims that every time a McDonald’s customer orders a Quarter Pounder, but asks for it cheese-less, McDonald’s potentially pockets an extra 30 to 90 cents by skipping on the cheese.

The key legal term here is “unjust enrichment.” Actually, correct: that’s only one of the many key legal terms in the 32-page complaint. Another might be “class action.”

Because that’s the whole point. Nobody sues McDonald’s for 30 or 90 cents or whatever this works out to be. But if you can argue that McDonald’s has done this millions and millions of times, it adds up. And ultimately it could be a lot of cheddar. 

Enter McDonald’s lawyers. They filed a motion to dismiss the case from federal court in Florida a week ago.

For one thing, they say, McDonald’s hasn’t even advertised a Quarter Pounder without cheese for years. Or a Double Quarter Pounder for that matter. Quick aside: Why isn’t a Double Quarter Pounder known as a Half Pounder? 

I digress. Back to the lawsuit, which McDonald’s claims spouts “nonsense” when it suggests that “retail restaurants have some legal obligation to reduce the price of a standard menu item to reflect the customer’s decision to decline some ingredient or component of that item.”

That claim “not only has no basis in law,” the McDonald’s lawyers write, “but would create utter chaos in the retail food industry” if it were allowed to proceed.

I have questions. There has to be something more going on here. 

I get that this is an attempt to build a class action lawsuit, but who thinks of suing McDonald’s over a slice or two of cheese? How does an attorney dream up the idea of suing the company like this?

I mean: power to you, but how does this become a thing? The original lawsuit story got picked up all over the place, and judging by reader comments and the incredulous tone of some stories, people seem to think it’s just a wee bit insane. 

As for me, I just don’t get it. I don’t think I’d want the money if I were actually entitled to it. It would just seem (forgive me) too cheesy.

But that’s just me–a guy who actually missed out on a $1,400 claim by one day in another case. If you’re a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder customer who doesn’t like cheese, maybe you’ll see a little something out of it.

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