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Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Wendy’s and McDonald’s Over Misleading Burger Advertisements

Ashley Waithira



  • Wendy’s and McDonald’s faced a lawsuit accusing them of false advertising.
  • The plaintiff, Justin Chimienti, claimed that the marketing photos made the burgers appear significantly larger and juicier than what was provided in the actual purchase.
  • He expressed disappointment after buying a Big Mac from McDonald’s and a Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy’s.

The Court’s Ruling

  • US District Judge Hector Gonzalez dismissed the lawsuit.
  • Judge Gonzalez found no substantial evidence that the fast-food chains provided smaller burgers than advertised.
  • The judge also stated that the plaintiff had not presented any concrete proof that he had seen the specific advertisements for the burgers he purchased before buying them.
  • Judge Gonzalez ruled that the food images on the companies’ websites “are no different than other companies’ use of visually appealing images to foster positive associations with their products.”
  • The judge further commented that such associations are “immaterial puffery” as long as they don’t make any guarantees about the actual size of the product.

Comparative Lawsuits

  • Fast-food chains like Burger King, Arby’s, and Taco Bell have also faced lawsuits alleging misrepresentation of food in their marketing.
  • Tommy Tobin, a lawyer at Perkins Coie and a lecturer at UCLA School of Law, stated, “We saw a record number of food litigation lawsuits filed from 2020 to 2023, with hundreds of new suits every year. Food litigation is a fast-growing area of law.”
  • Notably, Burger King has been accused of making its Whopper burger appear around 35% larger in advertisements than its real size.
  • Despite these allegations, fast-food chains have denied these accusations. Burger King, for instance, asserted that “reasonable consumers viewing food advertising know” that the food in advertisements “has been styled to make it look as appetizing as possible.”

Recent Surge in False Advertising Lawsuits

  • This lawsuit against Wendy’s and McDonald’s is not an isolated case.
  • Over recent years, there has been an increase in legal challenges against fast food restaurants with plaintiffs claiming discrepancies between advertised products and what is served.
  • Perkins Coie noted a significant increase in class action suits filed against food and beverage companies. From just 45 cases in 2010, the number soared to 214 in 2022 and 101 in the first half of the current year.
  • These lawsuits extend beyond just size discrepancies. Some have accused companies of putting fewer chips in a bag than expected or falsely advertising artificial flavors.

Public Reactions and Future Implications

  • Wendy’s and McDonald’s have not yet responded to requests for comment from major news outlets like CNN and The Associated Press.
  • James Kelly, a New York attorney, has been at the forefront of several of these false advertising lawsuits against fast-food companies, including the recent one against Wendy’s and McDonald’s. *
  • While some lawsuits have been dismissed, others like the one against Burger King in Florida are still ongoing.

Impacts on the Advertising Industry

The ongoing legal battles and the heightened scrutiny on the representation of products in advertisements are bound to have ripple effects on the advertising industry.

  • Integrity in Advertising: There is an increasing demand for more transparent and honest ad representation. Brands might need to re-evaluate their marketing strategies to align more closely with the actual product’s attributes. Misleading consumers, even unintentionally, might lead to legal repercussions and tarnish the brand image.
  • Enhanced Disclaimers: In light of the recent lawsuits, companies might begin to include more explicit disclaimers in their advertising materials. These disclaimers might detail the size, weight, and other specifics of the advertised product to avoid any potential confusion or claims of misrepresentation.
  • Increased Consumer Awareness: As these lawsuits gain media attention, consumers are becoming more discerning and critical of advertising claims. This means advertisers will need to be more careful and precise in their messaging to meet these changing expectations.


As the line between advertising allure and misleading consumers gets debated in courts, companies must walk a fine line to ensure they uphold consumer trust while presenting their products in the best possible light. It remains to be seen how these lawsuits might influence future advertising strategies across the food and beverage industry in the fast-food sector and beyond.

For more information on the recent surge of false advertising lawsuits against food and beverage companies, visit Perkins Coie’s official website.

Ashley is a creative and adventurous Journalism graduate with a vibrant personality. Her love for exploring new places fuels her passion for travelling, allowing her to uncover captivating stories and diverse cultures. With a kind and fun-loving nature, she radiates positivity and enjoys connecting with people from all walks of life. Ashley's belief in a supreme being serves as a moral compass, guiding her to always strive for what is right and just. In her spare time, she immerses herself in the pages of books, seeking inspiration and expanding her knowledge. Ashley's zest for life and unwavering dedication to her values make her remarkable.