No, This Isn’t A Frivolous Lawsuit, Just A Really Dumb One That Makes People Hate Lawyers Even More Than They Already Do

In fact, it makes me hate lawyers, and just about everyone I know is a lawyer, including me. I am drowning in self-loathing.

Now pay attention. A class-action lawsuit filed in Fort Lauderdale federal court this month is based on the claims of Cynthia Kissne, and Leonard Werner that they shouldn’t have to pay for the cheese on their McDonald Quarter Pounders if the cheese is removed at their request. The lawsuit, filed by Andrew Lavin of the Miami-based Lavin Law Group, asks for 5 million dollars in damages for this injustice. The logic of the suit is that McDonald’s used to distinguish between the Quarter Pounder and the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and charged a bit more for the latter. Now, however, the only version sold in the stores is the cheese version, but it is just called a Quarter Pounder. If you don’t want cheese, you say, “no cheese,” but you still pay the same price. The Horror. This is not an unusual practice in the industry, for obvious reasons. Burger King advertised that you could customize your Whopper, but removing stuff didn’t mean you paid less. Oddly, nobody sued.

This is a stupid, stupid lawsuit. [Now, don’t sue ME, Andrew, like a certain banned commenter I could name. This is just my opinion, after all, and you never know, I could be wrong. I’m just a legal ethicist.  We don’t agree on anything.] It’s not a technically unethical law suit, because Rule 3.1 defining frivolous suits requires that the lawyer know a suit is hopeless, futile and unwinnable. This favors stupid lawyers as well as greedy ones, hoping for a long-shot to come in because a jury is cognitively impaired….and you never know. Lavin has a theory, after all. You can read about it here, if there isn’t an old re-run of “Three’s Company” you’d rather watch.

It all brings back a bad memory of a fight I got into with a nearby McDonald’s that caused me to boycott that particular branch forever. One of my son’s friends, when he was about 8, wanted a cheeseburger without ketchup, pickle and the other stuff the standard McDonald’s cheeseburger contained. He ordered a “plain cheeseburger,” and was handed a hamburger with no cheese,,,and was charged for a cheeseburger. I complained, and the store manager actually argued with me that a “plain cheeseburger” meant no cheese. I returned all of our order, got a full refund, and pronounced her an idiot before leaving, never to return.

I should have sued, I guess…

_____________________________

Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!

21 Comments

Filed under Bioethics, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

21 responses to “No, This Isn’t A Frivolous Lawsuit, Just A Really Dumb One That Makes People Hate Lawyers Even More Than They Already Do

  1. Chris Marschner

    How does paying for a twenty cent piece of cheese translate to 5 million in damages?

    Theoretically, the 1/4 pounder without cheese is a custom product requiring a different prep so it should cost more.

  2. A Sausage McMuffin costs $1.39. A Sausage McMuffin with Egg costs $3.50. If you’re not adept at ordering, and ask for a “Sausage McMuffin, no egg,” you may receive a Sausage McMuffin with Egg, without the egg, and charged $3.50.

  3. Blogger Amy Alkon’s take:
    “There’s more to this than just this lawsuit. Perhaps I’m stretching here, but I think this says something about where we’ve been headed as a society, and it’s not looking good to me.Between this, whiney college students filing reports because some extravert asked them, “So, where are you from?”, and entertainment reporters claiming they were sexually victimized by a movie star’s flirty remarks, we’re looking more and more fucked…as in, decline of the American Empire fucked. Am I wrong? You see reasons for hope? Lay ’em on me, babes.”

  4. Surely the greater community can run the people out on a rail who don’t like cheese? The judge must have some jurisdiction there…

  5. Jeff H.

    Jack, when will you be in Boston? I’d like to take the time off of work to make sure I can see you.

  6. dragin_dragon

    In regards Ms. Alkon’s take: I haven’t had any real hope for the survival of this nation, culture, dream or society since John Kennedy bungled the Bay Of Pigs, but truthfully, this goes back to Potsdam. We keep electing people who have no clue to positions in which they can shape our future based on their own twisted belief system and whose reality-checking systems suck. Thus, we wind up with Memorial Day, justly honoring the men and women who have had to fix their foul-ups (almost used a different ‘F’-word, but it’s not my style) and had to pay the ultimate price for it. Let’s all take today as a day to remember their heroism, dedication and, yes, enthusiasm, because if it weren’t for them, there’d be no ‘us’.

  7. Randy K

    I had an even worse story then your McD’s story.

    On my way home from signing my enlistment contract, I convinced the Cpl. driving me home to stop at the O’Hare Oasis to get food since it was after 8 pm and MEPS hadn’t fed me since 11 am. I when to the counter of Burger King and ordered a Whopper with cheese plain. Unfortunately, English was the second language for the woman at the register, so she didn’t understand what I meant by plain. So I rephrased my order as a Whopper with only cheese on it, nothing else. Since the Cpl. was a bit impatient with me since his girlfriend was also in the car and was clearly unhappy being ordered to drive an hour to get me and another hour to get us home, as soon as my order was ready I grabbed it and left.

    Imagine my surprise after the 3rd or 4th bite I still hadn’t found any actual hamburger in my Whopper. As it turns out, I got exactly what I said I wanted, two buns and cheese, nothing else. Unfortunately, we were well down the Tristate by the time I figured out what had gone wrong.

    • Is it time we make English the “official language” in the USA.

      • If you don’t come here to assimilate, you are an invader and we should treat you as such. Not accommodate you.

        Presumably you came here because we do things better than where you came from, for most immigrants (and this time, illegal or not does not matter!) Why would you continue to want to do things the way you did before? If I went to another country, I would be expected, nay, mandated, to do things their way, right up to speaking their language, in many cases.

        I have this same problem with refugee from blue states and cities who come to heartland America and expect to change it to look like where they fled from.

  8. Thoughts from a former McDonald’s manager, 1988-2000:

    1. Back in the day we had a separate button on the register for a quarter pounder without cheese (nicknamed a “Quarter Ham” ) that did indeed charge less than the usual QPC (10 or 20 cents, I forget which). If this button no longer exists, then store managers and/or their staff — who have guidebooks for adding such keys to current digital registers at their discretion — have dropped the ball if they let this one slip through the cracks.

    2. OTOH when Extra Value Meals were invented, they did not create a separate button for “Quarter Ham” value meals…but at the time such meals were only $2.99, a relative bargain overall, so no one ever complained. At today’s prices, I guess I understand the compulsion to scrimp and debate to save every little penny, but this still seems petty.

    3. No manager with an intact brain cell ever thought “cheeseburger plain” = “hamburger”. At all. The hollow drone you had to deal with was clearly promoted and retained in error.

    • Rich in CT

      3. I could understand a miscommunication, but the solution is an apology and a new sandwich, not an argument.

      • dragin_dragon

        Not really, Rich. Todays climate promotes “I did nothing wrong. You, the customer, are wrong. Like it or lump it.” The days of the customer is always right are long since past, as well as any hope of reasonable customer service.

        • Well, my regular McDonald’s recently sent me home with a carry out order missing an item I had paid for. The next day, I told the drive-in attendant what happened, and was handed the missing item, no charge, at the window. No questions asked, no receipt requested, though I had it ready to show.

          That manager at the other store? An arrogant, power-abusing jerk. She can’t be typical.

          • Now let me say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I do not know if what I am about to relate is true of McDonalds, although I strongly suspect it to happen there given what they are: a competing fast food establishment likely to be a franchise.

            My son’s work experience with the hourly wage industry (gas station convenience stores, fast food restaurants) and my own from long ago (WalMart, etc.) has led him to make this observation: if you have the people skills of a stump, are not 16 and pregnant, have most of your teeth, and show up semi regularly when scheduled (and are willing to bail them out for extra shifts when others fail) these establishments will eventually approach you to become some sort of manager. This involves becoming salaried.

            Without exception, those who have take this bait have regretted the decision. Oh, the money sounds great, and you may get some benefits (don’t bet on it) but they then proceed to work you to death. You WILL take extra shifts, working far in excess of 40 hours a week without overtime, and thus your hourly pay rate will be far below what you made before you signed on for the extra headaches that come with responsibility. The observed burn out rate is high, the respect is low, and the ‘manager!’ bump on your resume is nonexistent, as other places know exactly what your employer did to you and are not impressed.

            All that to say: Jack, the ‘manager’ you ran into might have been worn out and irrational at the time. Not giving you a new sandwich speaks to an off tilt mind set more than a petty tyrant, to me at least.

            Just a thought.

            (and you have your revenge: you have eviscerated her in prose, for future generations to learn lessons from!)

  9. This story blew my mind when I read it.

    • What possesses people to file such lawsuits? Greed?

      This story reminded me of the story about the lawsuit from some years ago where the Winnebago camper driver turned on the cruise control, got up to make a sandwich, and surprise, surprise, surprise the Winnebago crashed. Turns out that cruse control doesn’t drive the vehicle; who knew. The driver sued Winnebago and got millions before it was eventually overturned on appeal. Winnebago had to state in their manual not only what their cruise control does, you know control the speed of the vehicle, but they had to list what it wouldn’t do, you know actually drive the vehicle down the road without a human driver at the wheel. I suppose that the Winnebago manual lists all the things their cruise control doesn’t do, you know like “cruise” the Caribbean Islands.

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