Burger King finds itself entangled in a class action lawsuit, recently ruled to proceed by a judge, which alleges false advertising practices regarding the size of their signature Whopper sandwiches. This development casts Burger King among other fast-food giants, including McDonald’s and Taco Bell, who have faced similar legal actions.
Origins of the Lawsuit: The lawsuit, initially filed in March 2020, asserts that Burger King engaged in misleading advertising tactics by exaggerating the size of their Whopper sandwiches in promotional materials. The complaint alleges that the fast-food chain intentionally presented Whoppers as twice as large in advertisements compared to their size when served to customers. According to the lawsuit, the burgers served to patrons are reportedly 35% smaller than depicted in marketing visuals.
Exaggerated Portrayal in Ads: The filing contends that Burger King’s promotional materials showcased Whoppers with oversized meat patties and ingredients overflowing the bun, leading consumers to believe they were purchasing larger portions. The lawsuit, spearheaded by Florida attorney Anthony Russo, represents plaintiffs from various states, including Florida, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, California, Connecticut, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.
Customers’ Allegations and Deceptive Claims: The plaintiffs argue that they experienced disappointment upon receiving Burger King products that did not match their appearance in promotional images. They claim they would not have made these purchases had they known the food items would differ in reality. The lawsuit alleges deceptive practices and asserts that consumers were misled.
Burger King’s Defense and Dismissal Request: Burger King strongly denied these allegations and sought dismissal of the case. The company contended that reasonable consumers know that food is presented in advertisements to look appealing and may not precisely resemble the advertised images. Burger King highlighted their marketing materials, indicating that the weight claim of their Whopper Sandwich being “1/4 lb* of savory flame-grilled beef” is accompanied by an asterisk, leading to a disclaimer clarifying that the weight refers to the pre-cooked patty.
Judge’s Ruling and Forward Momentum: In a recent ruling, U.S. District Judge Roy Altman determined that claims of misleading through television and online advertisements and violations of consumer protection laws would be dismissed. However, the judge allowed other aspects of the lawsuit, including allegations of negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment, to proceed. Judge Altman explained that determining if the difference between advertised products and those received would significantly influence reasonable consumer preferences is best left to consumers.
Company’s Response and Ongoing Proceedings: Burger King responded to the ruling, asserting that the claims brought forward by the plaintiffs are untrue. The company maintained that the flame-grilled beef patties featured in their advertisements are the same used in the millions of Whopper sandwiches served nationwide.
As the legal battle progresses, the lawsuit highlights the intricacies of advertising practices and consumer expectations in the fast-food industry.