Happy Meal Lawsuit Dismissed

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Dismissed with prejudice. Robble robble.
As San Francisco -- and its elected leaders -- discovered, it will require more than the legislative branch of government to vanquish the specter of the McDonald's Happy Meal. It turns out it'll take more than the judicial branch, too.

A San Francisco judge has shot down a lawsuit filed by a frustrated mother who claimed the Golden Arches was engaged "in the unfair, unlawful, deceptive and fraudulent practice of promoting and advertising McDonald's Happy Meal products to very young California children, using the inducement of various toys."

Judge Richard Kramer didn't see it that way, on Wednesday dismissing Monet Parham's class-action suit with prejudice. Per the court, California parents can still be cajoled into buying Happy Meals for their toy-obsessed young ones.

Parham's suit had claimed that McDonald's overt practice of catering to children was "inherently deceptive and unfair" as "children eight years old and younger do not have the cognitive skills and the developmental maturity to understand the persuasive intent of marketing and advertising."

Furthermore, the the restaurant chain's business model of using toys to hawk Happy Meals "interfere with and undermine parental control over the health and welfare of their children. This action seeks to stop one of the most powerful, unfair, and deceptive practices -- tempting kids with toys to get them to nag their parents to buy Happy Meals, thereby restoring an environment in which children and their parents can make dietary choices free from unfair and deceptive child-targeted marketing."

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One fried lawsuit, coming up...
Parham claimed her daughter, Maya, successfully wheedled the her into buying her Happy Meals to obtain the following toys: I-Carly lip gloss and note pad; Barbie lip gloss and small comb; Shrek movie character figures; Strawberry Shortcake mini-dolls with paper and mini-stamps; and an American Idol toy. As a result, Maya's health has been harmed "without her knowledge or comprehension.... Given the choice, Maya wants to eat Happy Meals instead of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains because McDonald's has convinced her that she needs to get the toy.... McDonald's has unfairly interfered with Parham's relationship with Maya."

Finally, arguments over Happy Meals have caused "needless and unwarranted dissension in their parent-child relationship."

Parham's suit had charged McDonald's with two counts of engaging in deceptive marketing and business practices; and two counts of engaging in unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices. Kaplan yesterday sustained McDonald's demurrers on all of Parham's complaints.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which was supporting Parham's case, has not yet ruled out an appeal.

In December of last year, a city ordinance forbidding fast food restaurants from giving away a toy with a meal unless that meal met agreed-upon health standards. McDonald's and other fast food outlets emasculated that law, however, by simply charging 10 cents for the toy in a separate transaction. Not only has San Francisco's heavy-handed effort not made local children healthier or spared parents the hell of whiny kids demanding a Happy Meal -- it has, arguably, worsened the problem. Before the "Healthy Meal Incentive Ordinance," parents could simply buy the toys for a low price and forgo the fast food. Now that is no longer an option -- in order to obtain the toy, one must buy the Happy Meal and then make a 10-cent charitable donation.

Politically -- and now, legally -- it seems vast fast-food corporations continue to toy with this city.

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Maurice
Maurice

You need an idiot judge to go along with the client and the backers. Better luck next time. Morons.

deancollins
deancollins

The ruling does not affect individual ordinances in San Francisco and Santa Clara counties that banned toy giveaways with fast-food meals directed at children.lol how is this a county role to make this decision and not state/federally based. I hope McDonalds sues them to get this overturned.Dont want your kid to have the toy....dont take them there OR remove the toy from the meal before giving it to them.

Mt.Dewd
Mt.Dewd

I'm amazed at how many people willingly admit through frivolous lawsuits that they make no effort at parenting and would rather have the government think for them. 

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Considering that your solution is the status quo and it has not worked, why should we repeat the failure?  Only a true moron makes the same mistake and expects a different outcome.

bigriggs
bigriggs

Ms Parham needs to teach her child the word "no". Stop being a whiner and start being a parent.

s b
s b

Or just learn to tell your kids "no".

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Companies that sell things to parents spend hundreds of millions of dollars getting kids to nag until the parent complies.  As a parent, you're outspent a million to one.

So unless you don't believe capitalism works, or you think advertising is not effective, your plan doesn't have any merit.

s b
s b

 Well, I have two kids.  And when they want crap food I say no.  It's really easy and it's a word I've known for years.  The corporation has no say in the decision because I'm not married to Ronald McDonald.  You're basically saying that a parent can't make parenting decisions because advertisers spend more money, and I'd say that the decision is 100 percent up to the person who buys the food. Suing McDonald's because you voluntarily bought your kid a happy meal is absurd.  Take responsibility for your own spending decisions.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

 Since when did "personal responsibility" work on a mass scale?  Just look at the number of obese people in America today and tell me with a straight face that personal responsibility is a legitimate, sensible answer to these kinds of societal problems.

Tomisheavy
Tomisheavy

I don't understand. No should work.for every parent. They're the parent. It's their job to guide their child through childhood.

Sometimes that means saying yes and sometimes that means saying no. If your kids don't take no for an answer, then you have failed at parenting

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

You're basically saying that a parent can't make parenting decisions because advertisers spend more money... Except not at all. 

And you do realize that you're the exception to the rule, right?  What works for you therefore does not apply to most other people.

Caldwell
Caldwell

"Politically -- and now, legally -- it seems vast fast food corporations continue to toy with this city."

I see what you did there.  But it's the other way around, isn't it?  Because the "Healthy Meal Incentive Ordinance" was a stupid law and, DAMN, that was a *stupid* lawsuit.

Joe Eskenazi
Joe Eskenazi

 Caldwell --

Thanks for reading. But I don't think it's the other way around. McDonald's has won without really breaking a sweat. Hence, they are toying with the opposition.

Best,

JE

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