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Pelman v. McDonald's Corp.

396 F.3d 508 (2005)

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Pelman v. McDonald’s Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

396 F.3d 508 (2005)

Facts

Ashley Pelman and Jazlen Bradley (plaintiffs) brought a proposed class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s Corporation (McDonald’s) (defendant) that included common-law false-advertising claims and statutory claims for deceptive business practices. The complaint alleged that McDonald’s (1) used false advertisements that caused people to believe that its food was nutritional and part of a healthy daily diet, (2) did not disclose that its food-preparation methods made the food less healthy than claimed, and (3) falsely claimed that nutritional information for its food was readily available even though many locations did not have this information. Pelman and Bradley alleged that they relied on this information to eat at McDonald’s three to five times per week for years, and that they would have eaten there less often or not at all if they had known the real information. Pelman and Bradley also claimed that this false information had caused them and other potential class members to develop a host of medical problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and certain cancers. McDonald’s moved to have the claims dismissed for failing to state a viable legal claim. The district dismissed the false-advertising claims because the complaint did not expressly allege that anyone had relied on a specific McDonald’s advertisement to the person’s detriment. At most, there was an implied allegation that someone may have relied on an advertisement that two potato products were prepared with vegetable oil and were cholesterol free. However, that particular representation was objectively not misleading, so it could not be used to state a false-advertising claim. The district court also dismissed the statutory deceptive-practices claims because the complaint did not contain any information about the alleged victims’ diets, medical histories, or other information that would help determine whether the McDonald’s food caused the alleged injuries, or whether they might have been caused by other issues. Pelman and Bradley appealed the dismissal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rakoff, J.)

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