Two Florida residents recently sued McDonald’s over the chain’s Quarter Pounder With Cheese, stating they were charged full-price for the sandwich even when they requested it without cheese. They argued that because the McDonald’s app shows that some locations charge 30 cents less for a Quarter Pounder sans cheese, a judge should award consumers $5 million in the class-action suit. On Friday, the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale responded, essentially: Hell to the no.
The Miami Herald reports U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas dismissed the case on the grounds that the two plaintiffs failed to “state a claim” for their damages, meaning they didn’t adequately demonstrate how they were harmed by the price of the cheese-less Quarter Pounder With Cheese. Dimitrouleas called the plaintiffs’ attempt to legally link the Quarter Pounder and Quarter Pounder With Cheese as a single product “absurd.” He further dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs cannot bring this suit again.
The plaintiff’s argument hinged on a strangely existential question of whether a slice of cheese is a distinct menu item from a burger or sandwich in its entirety. The court noted that several sandwiches include a slice of cheese, but that a customer could not enter a McDonald’s and order just a slice of cheese: “Under any common sense analysis, there is no market for a customer to come into a McDonald’s restaurant and order a slice or two of ‘cheese’ as a product that is separate, distinct, and independent from any other product or menu item. Nor is there a separate product market for a customer to order a slice of tomato, or a slice of lettuce, or a slice of pickle, etc.”
Ergo, the cheese is not a separate menu item but merely a menu modification, and therefor the plaintiffs’ argument is silly and definitely not worth $5 million in damages. Glad we spent money and time to arrive at that conclusion.