False Advertising Suit Against McDonald’s and Wendy’s Is Dismissed

A federal judge in Brooklyn has dismissed a lawsuit against Wendy’s and McDonald’s that accused the companies of exaggerating the size of their burgers in advertisements.

In a 19-page decision issued on Saturday, Judge Hector Gonzalez, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, said that he had not found that the fast-food chains delivered smaller burgers than advertised and had not misled customers.

Judge Gonzalez also said that it was not clear that the plaintiff, Justin Chimienti of New York, had even seen the ads for the Wendy’s Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger and the McDonald’s Big Mac that he cited as examples in his complaint.

The companies’ efforts “to present appetizing images of their products are no different than other companies’ use of visually appealing images to foster positive associations with their products,” Judge Gonzalez wrote in his ruling.

Mr. Chimienti filed the lawsuit in 2022. The 35-page complaint said he bought burgers at Wendy’s and McDonald’s locations and found that the burgers “were much smaller than advertised and he was financially damaged as a result.”

He said that McDonald’s and Wendy’s featured undercooked beef patties in their advertising because meat shrinks 25 percent when cooked.

“Wendy’s materially overstates the amount of toppings and the size of the beef patties for nearly every menu item in its current advertisements,” the complaint said.

“McDonald’s also materially overstates the size of its beef patties using the same deceptive practice as Wendy’s,” according to the complaint, which showed cropped photos of several burgers from the companies’ ads juxtaposed against photos that customers shared on social media showing burgers as they appeared when they were served to them.

He said the chains’ advertising was misleading and harmed customers because “they are receiving food that is much lower in value than what is being promised.”

McDonald’s, which is based in Chicago, and Wendy’s, based in Dublin, Ohio, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Mr. Chimienti’s lawyers also did not immediately respond on Wednesday.

The lawsuit had sought unspecified monetary damages “fully compensating all individuals who were deceived by the defendants as a result of purchasing an overstated menu item.”

The lawsuit was one of the more recent accusing fast-food companies of misrepresenting their products in ads.

In August, a federal judge in Miami refused to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against Burger King that claimed its ads overstated the amount of meat in the Whopper burger and other sandwiches, according to The Associated Press. A separate lawsuit is pending against Taco Bell, accusing it of overstating the amount of beans and meat in some of its menu items, including the Mexican Pizza, Crunchwrap Supreme and Grande Crunchwrap, CNN has reported.

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.