Judge Rules That Quarter Pounders Without Cheese Should Not Be Cheaper
He dismissed a lawsuit arguing that non-cheese-eaters were "suffering injury."
Earlier this year, two Floridians filed a $5 million lawsuit against McDonald’s, somehow keeping straight faces while insisting that they had “suffered injury” by having to pick the cheese off their Quarter Pounders. They weren't literally injured, rather they were contending that McDonald’s should charge them less when they ordered a Quarter Pounder without cheese, and that the fast food giant’s unwillingness to knock a quarter or two off the price was completely unfair.
“Notwithstanding the availability of Quarter Pounders and Double Quarter Pounders, 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,” their attorney wrote in the lawsuit.
But earlier this week, U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas, basically told the plaintiffs, Cynthia Kissner and Leonard Werner, that they’ll have to keep paying full price for their Quarter Pounders—cheese or no cheese—like everybody else. “[A] pleading must contain a ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,” the judge wrote, according to the Miami Herald. “This pleading standard ‘does not require detailed factual allegations,’ but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation.”
In non-legalese: Being butthurt over the price of a burger doesn’t qualify as “suffering injury.” Dimitrouleas also said that the plaintiffs could in no way argue that a slice of cheese was a standalone menu item that had a separate price attached to it.
“[T]here is no market for a customer to come into a McDonald’s restaurant and order a slice or two of ‘cheese’ as a product that is separate, distinct, and independent from any other product or menu item,” he wrote. “Nor is there a separate product market for a customer to order a slice of tomato, or a slice of lettuce, or a slice of pickle, etc.”
When the lawsuit was filed, McDonald’s was quick to respond that the Quarter Pounder with Cheese was the standard menu item, and ordering it without cheese was a customization based on personal preference, “in the same way a customer may omit pickles or onions.”
McDonald’s also said that the assumption that restaurants are required (or should be required) to knock a few cents off a menu item’s purchase price if a customer wanted it without a particular topping, ingredient, or condiment was “nonsense.”
It sounds like Judge Dimitrouleas agreed.