A federal judge has thrown out a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging the Extra Value Meals sold by McDonald’s aren’t such a good value.
In a written opinion Friday, U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo rejected the contention that the fast-food restaurant chain is violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by marketing combination meals that cost more than the aggregate cost of their individual items.
Plaintiff Kelly Killeen alleges she bought a sausage burrito breakfast Extra Value Meal for $5.08 at a McDonald’s in Chicago after seeing the chain’s advertisements.
But buying two sausage burritos, hash browns and a medium coffee separately would have cost her only $4.97, Killeen alleges.
She maintains that by advertising and marketing Extra Value Meals as “a value,” McDonald’s is tricking customers into paying more for food they could have bought at a lower cost.
Killeen alleges McDonald’s Corp. and a franchisee, Salabad LLC, are violating the state consumer fraud statute and unlawfully enriching themselves.
Killeen filed her suit in Cook County Circuit Court. McDonald’s removed the case to federal court under diversity jurisdiction in February 2017.
In her opinion, Bucklo conceded Killeen’s theory “has a superficial appeal.”
“[C]ommon experience favors her assertion that consumers expect to pay less for items bundled together and billed as a ‘value’ package than they would pay if they purchased the items separately,” Bucklo wrote.
However, she continued, a closer examination of Killeen’s theory reveals its shortcomings.
“But even assuming defendants’ marketing of the Extra Value Meal had a tendency to mislead consumers in this respect,” Bucklo wrote, citing cases that included Bober v. Glaxo Wellcome PLC, 246 F.3d 934 (7th Cir. 2001), “Illinois law is clear that where other information is available to dispel that tendency, there is no possibility for deception.”
Information about the cost of the individual items that make up Extra Value Meals is available to customers, Bucklo wrote.
And she wrote customers do not have to search hard to find that information.
“Indeed, anyone familiar with fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s surely knows that prices are typically displayed on menus located near the registers,” Bucklo wrote.
“Understandably, plaintiff may not have wished to take the time to compare prices, but there is no question that doing so would have dispelled the deception on which her claims are based.”
The lead attorney for Killeen is Samuel A. Shelist of Shelist Law Firm LLC.
The lead attorney for McDonald’s is David J. Doyle of Freeborn & Peters LLP.
The lead attorney for Salabad is Nathan H. Lichtenstein of Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa.
None of the attorneys could be reached for comment.
The case is Kelly Killeen v. McDonald’s Corp., et al., No. 17 C 874.