In this digitally enhanced world, news spreads fast. The chances of us stumbling across a story that sounds completely ridiculous is higher than ever before. That’s why we have compiled a list of such stories, where people decided to go after food chains for not meeting their expectations. While some of them might sound reasonable, others are plain ridiculous and make no sense.
Whether these lawsuits are justified or not, you decide for yourself. Without further ado, here are 10 stories of people who took ridiculous lawsuits to a whole new level.
1. Janine Sugawara v. PepsiCo
90’s kids will remember Cap’n Crunch as part of their morning routine. Cap’n Crunch, manufactured by Quaker Oats Company, a division of PepsiCo, is a popular brand of cereal. For Janine Sugawara, a woman from California, Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries had been part of her breakfast for four years. She believed that “crunch berries” meant that she was eating real fruit. Sadly for Sugawara, the “berries” were nothing more than brightly colored cereal balls.
Enraged at the manufacturer, Sugawara filed a lawsuit against them at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The plaintiff presented her case, explaining that the manufacturer had deceived her. Judge Morrison England, Jr., of the U.S. District Court, however, dismissed the case.
2. Allan Chang and Barry Stoltz v. Chobani Greek Yogurt
In 2014, Allan Chang from Queens and Barry Stoltz from Scarsdale, New York, filed a lawsuit against Chobani Greek Yogurt because the product wasn’t Greek enough for them. Their lawsuit claimed that eating Chobani Greek Yogurt was about as nutritious as eating a fudge ice cream bar. The 48 page lawsuit accused the manufacturers of deceiving its consumers about the products’ health benefits. The official complaint read: “There is nothing ‘Greek’ about the products. None of the products sold in the U.S. are made in Greece or made by Greek nationals.”
The suit also pointed out that Chobani intentionally mislead the public by adding “0%” on the label without providing any context as to what the 0% represents. Chobani responded to the plaintiffs by releasing a statement: “Much like English muffins and French fries, our fans understand Greek yogurt to be a product description about how we authentically make our yogurt and not about where we make our yogurt in upstate New York and Idaho.” The company also pointed out that a similar lawsuit filed in California was tossed out the doors by another judge.
3. Caesar Barber v. KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s
In 2002, Caesar Barber, a 56-year-old from New York, filed multiple lawsuits against fast food chains. His reason for taking on KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s? They apparently put his life in jeopardy with their unhealthy foods. The overweight Bronx man weighed 210 pounds and claimed that the fast food chains had caused his unhealthy weight gain with their greasy and salty foods. Barber, who ate at least five times a week from one of the defendant restaurants, suffered two heart attacks and was also diabetic.
McDonald’s released a statement calling Barber’s lawsuit frivolous: “Common sense tells you that it makes no sense. McDonald’s serves quality food. Our menu features choice and variety with lots of options for consumers.” In 2003, his lawsuit was thrown out by a federal judge.
4. Jason Saidian v. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
In 2016, Jason Saidian, a Los Angeles resident, decided to file a class action lawsuit against Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for allegedly falsely advertising the ingredients of its fruit-filled and maple-glazed donuts. According to the plaintiff, the Chocolate Iced Raspberry Filled, Glazed Raspberry Filled, Maple Bar, and Glazed Blueberry Cake donuts and donut holes did not actually contain real raspberries, maple, or blueberries.
The lawsuit also claimed that the doughnuts were instead made using nutritionally inferior ingredients. According to court documents, Krispy Kreme purportedly uses sugar, corn syrup, gums and artificial food coloring to “mimic the texture, shape and color” of these “premium Ingredients” instead of naturally occurring products with proven health benefits. Saidian requested at least $5 million in damages, as well as disgorging of profits made from the products. In 2017, Saidian voluntarily dismissed the suit against Krispy Kreme.
5. Athena Hohenberg v. Nutella
In 2012, Athena Hohenberg, a concerned mother from California, filed a lawsuit against the makers of Nutella. Ferrero USA lost the lawsuit against the mother who claimed that the manufacturer fooled parents into thinking the spread was a healthy choice for their kids. The suit claimed that the mother saw advertisements suggesting the spread as part of a healthy choice for children and decided to feed it to her 4-year-old daughter.
After realizing that the spread was in fact similar to a candy bar, the enraged mother took it to court for false advertisement. Hohenberg won the suit against Ferrero USA and as part of the deal, any US citizen who purchased Nutella between January 1, 2008, and February 3, 2012 could file a claim and receive a $4 return ($20 limit per household). Since the suit, Nutella changed their advertisement strategies as well as the labels to better educate their customers.
6. Julie Fletcher v. Canada Dry
Canada Dry, a well known brand of Ginger Ale, is most popular among mothers since it is used to relieve stomach aches. Earlier this year, Julie Fletcher from New York noticed that the drink was lacking a major ingredient; Ginger. Although the drink was listed as having “ginger” included within, there was no content found in it; the lawsuit stated. The manufacturer argued that ginger is used in the process to make the “natural flavoring”, which is why ginger is listed with the ingredients.
A similar lawsuit was filed in Missouri last year. The drink was sent to a lab where it showed that no ginger content was discovered. The manufacturer released a statement saying that: “just because the lab tests couldn’t detect ginger doesn’t mean it wasn’t there”. The case was eventually dropped by the plaintiff this year.
7. Paul Newton, Jr. v. Popeyes
A Mississippi man named Paul Newton, Jr. was enjoying a meal he had picked up from a drive-thru at Popeyes when he started choking. He had ordered fried chicken to go but did not receive a knife with his meal. According to the suit, Newton was forced to eat with his hands, which caused him to choke. Newton also stated that he had to undergo emergency surgery to remove the piece of chicken lodged in his throat.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2016, claimed that the restaurant was negligent. When the public learned about the silly lawsuit, Newton started receiving negative comments directed towards his family. This made him change his mind and drop the suit.
8. Leonard Werner and his friend v. McDonald’s
In May of 2018, Leonard Werner and his friend decided to take on McDonald’s for two slices of cheese. The duo ordered two Quarter Pounders without cheese but were forced to pay an extra $1 with their order. For the trouble they went through, the duo is demanding a whooping $5 million from the fast food franchise. According to the suit, customers are “being forced to pay for two slices of cheese, which they do not want, order, or receive, to be able to purchase their desired product”.
Another lawyer who is involved with a different case against McDonald’s explained that, up to 25 million customers may have been overcharged and could be eligible to receive $10 and a free sandwich, should a judge side with the plaintiffs. McDonald’s, however, believes that the plaintiffs have no chance of winning, since the case is without legal merit.
9. Roy Werbel v. Froot Loops
In 2009, Kellogg’s, the makers of the popular cereal Froot Loops, was taken to court by a man named Roy Werbel. The reason? The brand had misled him by causing him to believe that the product contained real, nutritious fruit. In the lawsuit, Werbel claimed that his aim to eat and live a healthy lifestyle was broken by means of false advertisement. The judges who took the case, however, dismissed it without prejudice.
The judges also explained that the word “Froot” cannot be interpreted as real “Fruit”. They also pointed out that fruits cannot come in shapes of loops but Werbel was not ready to back down. He sued again and again lost the case.
10. Jessica Gomez v. Jelly Belly Candy Co.
In 2017, Jessica Gomez from California filed a suit against the makers of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans for false advertisement. The suit claimed that she was duped into buying and eating sugar-filled jelly beans when she thought they were sugar-free. The federal class-action lawsuit against the Fairfield, California-based candy company states that the manufacturer mislabeled sugar on the product’s list of ingredients. Gomez is asking for damages, restitution and a court order demanding the company end “fraudulent practices.”
The candy company advertises sugar as “evaporated cane juice” instead of labeling it correctly. Her lawyer argued that this makes the product appear less of a candy by using an alternative healthy term to define sugar. Gomez has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on her side who explained that the term “juice” shouldn’t be used unless it’s referring to that of a fruit or vegetable. Gomez’ attorney stated that the company’s advertisement strategy clearly violates the state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Business Practices Law, and False Advertising Law.
What do you think of these lawsuits? Do you think they are fair? Let us know your thoughts through the comments section.