If you ask us, the only sin restaurant chains are guilty of committing is serving lip-smacking, high-calorie meals. Unfortunately, there have also been countless cases of overpricing, false advertising, and food poisoning, which are actual sins against consumers.
Then there are lawsuits against fast food chains filed by customers who tried to play fast and loose with the law. And if there’s anything to be learned from specious lawsuits, it’s that no restaurant operator is safe from them.
The burger buff who couldn’t fit in a White Castle booth
In several suits against restaurants, the complainant just wanted a large payout. New Yorker Martin Kressman wasn’t one of them. In 2009, he filed suit against White Castle because he smacked his knee on a metal post while trying to wedge himself into a booth.
Martin complained that the booth’s proportions weren’t ideal to people who are generously proportioned, and accused them of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
For all the trouble they caused him, the White Castle headquarters sent Martin a couple coupons for a total of nine free hamburgers. But the cheese still cost extra.
However, this humiliation didn’t stop Mr. Kressman from eating several White Castle sliders. He simply had his wife buy them until they made adjustments to the store’s petite-friendly seating. When they didn’t, he took them to court seeking unspecified damages.
Unlike other cases, this one did not become the stuff of frivolous-lawsuit legend. It only succeeded in letting people know that they could blame a restaurant for personal injuries caused by their own oversized expectations.
The woman who felt discriminated against by P.F. Chang’s gluten-free meals
Some people eat a gluten-free diet just because, while others do it because their health and well-being depend on it.
In 2014, celiac sufferer Anne Marie Phillips filed suit against P.F. Chang’s, whom she claimed discriminates against customers with celiac disease by charging them a $1 surcharge for gluten-free items. According to her lawsuit, the gluten-free surcharge is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Ms. Phillips argued that because gluten-free foods are “not materially different from other foods, in ingredients or difficulty of preparation,” they should not be priced more than the regular, gluten-filled food items.
But they are different from other foods. They require non-gluten ingredients and are prepared differently and separately from regular meals. Even national organizations that advocate for celiac sufferers didn’t support Ms. Phillips, who eventually decided to drop the lawsuit.
The Californian who complained about the one-napkin policy at McDonald’s
Webster Lucas sued McDonald’s for “undue mental anguish” after being denied his request for more napkins to wipe his dirty table. Like any McDonald’s altercation, this one escalated quickly.
When store manager Angel Arciga “developed a nasty attitude” toward Webster (who is African American), the distraught McCustomer concluded that the napkin denial was racially motivated. The tipping point was when Mr. Arciga allegedly yelled, “You people!”.
One lesson to be learned here is that if you’re a McDonald’s manager, it might be best to adhere to the age old adage that “the customer is always right,” especially such fastidious ones.
Perhaps you’re wondering why personal injury lawyers in Seattle would take a client like Mr. Lucas. We most certainly would, provided the case didn’t involve mental anguish from being denied some extra napkins.
Trivial lawsuits aside, legitimate complaints can be made against errant eateries. So if you have an injurious experience at your favorite Renton restaurant chain, call or drive-thru Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams’s Renton office to chat about your case.