In a major legal setback in media mogul Byron Allen’s campaign against McDonald’s over alleged fraudulent advertising spending practices targeting Black-owned media companies, a judge has ruled to dismiss the $100 million lawsuit.
Why it Failed
The lawsuit, which sought upward of $100 million in damages, accused McDonald’s of making false promises to increase national advertising spending with Black-owned media outlets as part of its diversity initiatives. The fast-food giant had pledged to boost its ad spending with such companies from 2 to 5 percent by 2024.
Byron’s Allen Media Group (AMG) alleged that McDonald’s had no intention of fulfilling this commitment and instead aimed to bolster its public image and avoid potential backlash. The suit was filed by AMG.
Despite AMG’s assertions, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that McDonald’s is likely to prevail in the case if allowed to proceed. The court emphasized that the lawsuit was premature as it was filed before the designated deadline for McDonald’s to meet its advertising spending goal. Judge Mel Recana highlighted that McDonald’s still has ample time to fulfill its promise, with 11 months remaining in the designated period.
AMG’s lawyer Louis Miller vowed to appeal the court’s decision, citing California law that prohibits companies from making false statements to the public, Deadline reported.
McDonald’s issued a statement asserting that the court’s decision vindicated the company against what it deemed a “frivolous lawsuit” orchestrated by Allen as part of a broader campaign against McDonald’s.
The court’s ruling was based on California’s anti-SLAPP law, intended to safeguard free speech by preventing frivolous lawsuits that aim to stifle public discourse, The Hollywood Reporter reported. SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation,” which are legal actions lacking substantial legal merit and are often initiated to silence journalists, activists, media and entertainment entities, and others who express criticism of a plaintiff regarding matters of public interest.