Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

McDonald's Quarter Pounder Lawsuit

There are real problems, and then there are first-world problems. As first-world inhabitants, we expect things to be exactly as we want. The temperature of the shower is not too hot and not too cold. Our coffees have just the right amount of sugar substitute and steamed soy milk. And our t.v.'s are programmed to let us watch whatever we want, when we want. And we want what we pay for. When these things aren't just right, it's easy to become indignant.

A couple of Florida fast-food fans are taking their own first-world, capitalist grievances to court against McDonald's. They're upset that they're being charged for cheese on their Quarter Pounders, cheese that they either don't want, or didn't receive. They're seeking justice and at least $5 million.

Cheese Charges

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Cynthia Kissner and Leonard Werner who say they didn't want cheese on their Quarter Pounders, but had to pay for it anyway. Apparently, you used to be able to order either a Quarter Pounder or a Quarter Pounder with cheese, and the two sandwiches had different price tags. The cheese cost more. But now, if you order in-store as opposed to using the mobile app, you don't have the cheese-free option. Sure, you can have them hold the cheese, just like you would the pickles or mayo, but you're not going to get a price reduction.

The lawsuit claims that "customers have been forced, and continue to be overcharged for these products, by being forced to pay for two slices of cheese, which they do not want, order, or receive, to be able to purchase their desired product." They say that McDonald's is being "unjustly enriched" by these unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Cheesy Trademarks

The consumers' attorney makes an additional argument regarding the trademarks for the Quarter Pounder versus the Big Mac. The Big Mac was trademarked as including "two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun," as the jingle goes. So, the cheese is a component of the product. Conversely, the Quarter Pounder was trademarked without cheese, as evidenced by the separate sandwich, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese. So the cheese is something that's added to the "base product," the lawyer argues.

In response to the lawsuit, McDonald's stated that the advertised Quarter Pounder comes with cheese, although they do try to acccommodate guests' requests for removing certain ingredients. Additionally, they noted that restaurant owners and operators determine their own menu pricing relative to their market.

Burger Money

If the court allows the lawsuit to go forward as a class action, notice will be sent out to potential class members. Or, to put it in a catchy jingle, "If the class is certified, you might get notified." And $5 million? That could buy a lot of burgers. Or, spread out among thousands of people, maybe just a few slices of cheese.

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