McDonald`s grimaces at Happy Meal lawsuit

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011, 09:54 AM IST

San Francisco: A lawsuit that seeks to stop McDonald`s from selling Happy Meals must be dismissed because parents can always prohibit their children from eating them, the hamburger giant said in a court filing.

The lawsuit claims McDonald`s unfairly uses toys to lure children into its restaurants. The plaintiff, Monet Parham, a Sacramento, Calif. mother of two, claims the company`s advertising violates California consumer protection laws.

The Happy Meal has been a huge hit for McDonald`s -- making the company one of the world`s largest toy distributors -- and spawning me-too offerings at most other fast-food chains.

But lately it also has come under fire from public health officials, parents and lawmakers who are frustrated with rising childhood obesity rates and weak anti-obesity efforts from restaurant operators, which are largely self-regulated.

Parham, who filed suit last December, is represented by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group.

In the lawsuit, Parham admits she frequently tells her children "no" when they ask for Happy Meals, McDonald`s said in a court filing late on Monday.

"She was not misled by any advertising, nor did she rely on any information from McDonald`s," the company said.

Should Parham`s lawsuit be allowed, it would spawn a host of other problematic legal proceedings, McDonald`s said.

"In short, advertising to children any product that a child asks for but the parent does not want to buy would constitute an unfair trade practice," the company said.

Attorneys for Parham did not immediately respond to a request for comment late on Monday.

Bureau Report