The royalty of fast food, Burger King, has sustained a critical legal blow in a lawsuit alleging that the company misled hungry consumers about the size of its signature sandwich: The Whopper. A judge ruled that the legal action can proceed against the fast-food chain and the Monarch of Meat Patties.
The 26-page lawsuit claims that the restaurant chain deceptively led customers to believe that its burgers are significantly larger than they are in reality:
Burger King was unable to shake customers’ beef with the burger chain after it lost a bid to dismiss a lawsuit that accused the chain of exaggerating the size its Whoppers.
U.S. District Judge Roy Altman in Miami said on Tuesday that Burger King must defend against the claims that its depiction of Whoppers on in-store menu boards mislead reasonable customers, amounting to a breach of contract.
The 26-page class-action lawsuit claims the burger joint has been advertising its signature Whoppers to make them appear “approximately 35% larger in size, and contain more than double the meat, than the actual burger.”
The lawsuit also alleges the company began to “materially overstate” the size of its burgers in ads in September 2017.
The plaintiffs allege that the company shows that its burgers contain ingredients that “overflow over the bun” to make it appear as if the customer will get more burger for their buck. The King responded by arguing that it is not required to serve burgers that look “exactly like the picture.” The company also contended that it had not used ads promising a specific burger size.
Apparently, Judge Altman wasn’t smelling what Burger King was cooking. In his decision on Friday, he left it for the jurors to “tell us what reasonable people think” about the matter.
Attorneys Anthony J. Russo and James C. Kelly are spearheading the lawsuit, representing at least 100 plaintiffs claiming to have been deceived by Burger King’s advertising. They seek to compel the company to change the imagery used for the Whopper and other “materially overstated” menu items. Kelly told reporters that they are seeking “fairness across the industry on the issue.”
This development appears to be a more widespread issue that goes beyond Burger King’s court. It is part of an overall trend of consumer-led legal actions against fast-food companies for deceptive advertising. McDonald’s and Wendy’s are currently facing similar lawsuits in federal courts. This seems to reflect a growing consumer dissatisfaction with these establishments. Taco Bell was also sued in July for serving Crunchwraps and Mexican pizzas that “allegedly contain only half as much filling as advertised.”
Each of the plaintiffs in these legal actions is seeking at least $5 million in damages, which could buy plenty of Whoppers, Big Macs, Baconators, and Mexican pizzas.
The outcomes of these legal actions could possibly set a precedent that makes for more scrutiny and reform in how these companies market their wares. Indeed, the results could bring about a sea change in this arena.
At this moment, the question remains: Will these lawsuits prompt the fast-food industry to serve up more truth in advertising, or will they continue to cook up more false marketing strategies?