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Happy Meals Lawsuit Chucked Out of Window
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A lawsuit claiming McDonalds of unfair use of toys to ‘lure’ children for purchasing it signature ‘Happy Meals’ was dismissed by a San Francisco judge on Wednesday. The proposed class-action suit sought to ban the gifts of toys by the company that accompany its ‘Happy Meals.’ The free distribution of toys with ‘Happy Meals’ has been a huge hit at McDonalds, and helped turning the company into one of the world’s largest toy distributors. However, public health officials, parents and lawmakers concerned with rising child obesity and fast-food consumption in children have been frustrated with the success of ‘Happy Meals.’

Monet Parham, the plaintiff in the instant case, is a mother of two, and was represented by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group on nutrition related matters. The group hasn’t lost heart yet and the CSPI executive director, Michael Jacobson has expressed that the group would discuss the chances of an appeal with the plaintiff.

Jacobson told the media, “In time, the practice of using toys to market junk food will seem as inappropriate and anachronistic as lead paint, child labor and asbestos.”


Experts say it was curious that the Judge Richard Kramer dismissed Parham’s claims, which bore on public health, without giving the plaintiff a chance to file an amended lawsuit. It is also curious that the court documents embodying the order of dismissal do not contain any record of the judge’s legal analysis, though a reasonable explanation for dismissing a serious matter is expected to be recorded.

The McDonald’s spokeswoman, Danya Proud, was visibly happy and proud with Kramer’s decision. She said, “We are proud of our Happy Meals and will vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food.”

However, it is difficult not to make a reasonable conclusion that the practice of luring children by toys to buy junk food seems a bit dubious, and the lack of any reasonable explanation recorded by the judge to dismiss the suit, too, seems surprising. Considering the health of children is at stake.

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The case in Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco is Monet Parham, on behalf of herself and those similarly situated vs. McDonald’s Corp. et al., 10-506178.


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