Byron Allen Loses $100M Lawsuit Against McDonald's

Suing giant corporations can be fraught. 

While the companies have deep pockets for potential judgments, they also can use those same resources to “lawyer up” to the umpteenth degree. 

Case in point: Byron Allen and the Allen Media Group (which includes Entertainment Studios Networks and The Weather Channel) has lost a $100 million fraud lawsuit against McDonald’s. 

The lawsuit accused the fast food giant of not following through on a pledge to dramatically increase national ad spending with Black-owned media outlets. 

“Facing discrimination claims, the home of the Big Mac in May 2021 unveiled a self-described four-year plan to pump up its national media spending with said Black-owned companies from 2% to 5%,” according to Deadline



The suit hinged on a specific interpretation of claims McDonald’s made in a press release outlining its pledges to increase its spending with Black-owned businesses overall, according toVariety.

McDonald’s argued that the lawsuit violated California’s “anti-SLAPP” statute, a 20-year-old regulation that allows defendants to ask a judge to dismiss a case that lacks merit and is tied to free speech, according toRestaurant Business.

The California state court judge dismissed the case, “finding that McDonald’s will likely win the case if it’s allowed to proceed, since the company still has more time to live up to its vow,” according toThe Hollywood Reporter.

Allen, the publicized bidder for Paramount Global,  is not without “deep pockets” himself.

Louis Miller, a lawyer representing Allen Media Group, said the ruling will be appealed. He said that California law bars “companies from making false statements to the public.”

It’s not the only lawsuit the Allen Media Group has initiated. 

“Allen Media Group has a separate $10 billion lawsuit pending against McDonald’s in federal court, alleging that it discriminates through racial stereotyping in its advertising practices, violating civil rights laws,” according to Variety

McDonald’s issued a triumphant statement after the court win, per Deadline. The company's interpretation of the judgment is that McDonald's will be unable to appeal. 

“The court’s decision serves as confirmation of what we’ve said all along: this was just another frivolous lawsuit brought by Byron Allen as part of his smear campaign against McDonald’s,” according to a statement by the company. 

“The court dealt Mr. Allen a crushing blow by dismissing this case for good, ruling that he failed to show that his claims had even ‘minimal merit,’ and the loss requires Mr. Allen to pay McDonald’s legal fees,” per the statement. “McDonald’s long ago made clear that we would not allow Mr. Allen to perpetuate false narratives at our expense or succumb to his extortionist tactics. Moving forward, we will continue to collaborate with diverse-owned partners and remain committed to advancing inclusion and diversity efforts.”

Allen has made similar claims against General Motors over its media spending practices, but has not filed any legal action. 

"Meanwhile, one major company has garnered Allen’s praise," according to MediaPost. The Allen Media Group and Verizon partnered to host a Black-owned media summit.

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