Court Serves Unhappy Meal of Fail to Monet Parham-Lee In McDonald's Case

Law, Politics & Current Events

There are very few people who have inspired as much immediate contempt from the authors of Popehat as Monet Parham-Lee, the California state employee who, with the assistance of the crypto-totalitarian Center for Science in the Public Interest, sued McDonald's because she finds it difficult to say "no" when her daughter demands a Happy Meal.

Yesterday Judge Richard Kramer of the San Francisco County Superior Court dismissed the case. I'm looking for a written order, if there was one.

A small victory against nanny-statism is still a victory.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Dan Weber  •  Apr 5, 2012 @11:01 am

    Now she's just gonna nag the courts all day.

  2. perlhaqr  •  Apr 5, 2012 @11:05 am

    Yay!

  3. Jess  •  Apr 5, 2012 @11:17 am

    I had an ex friend (emphasis on ex) that was the same way with her daughter. The kid would pester her until she gave in because she was too lazy to do her job as a mother. Kid ended up frying her brain on herion and getting into trouble stealing cars. That's what happens when you don't train your children to learn they don't get everything they want. I would love to see the written order. Hopefully the judge called her a dumbass and told her to clean up her act as a parent.

  4. Josh  •  Apr 5, 2012 @12:40 pm

    Hmm. Sanity prevails. Looks good to me.

  5. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States  •  Apr 5, 2012 @2:10 pm

    I believe this is the "empty glass" view of things.

    I would say he provided us all with a Happy Meal of "Bite Me You Dumb Ho" of Success.

  6. Bryan  •  Apr 5, 2012 @3:16 pm

    Searching the online case file for the Superior Court of California, San Francisco using the case number 506178 yields an order from APR-04-2012 labeled:
    ORDER SUSTAINING MCDONALD'S DEMURRERS TO PLAINTIFF'S AMENDED COMPLAINT

    "IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Demurrers of McDonald's Corporation and McDonald' USA, LLC, to the Amended Complaint of Monet Parham are SUSTAINED ^without leave to amend^ and the Amended Complaint is dismissed with prejudice."

    The "without leave to amend handwritten" is a handwritten addition to the proposed order.

  7. Eric Vidler  •  Apr 5, 2012 @6:30 pm

    I am soooo tired of lazy ass parents who are making our country dependent on the gov't. It is plain this woman just wants to make a scene. Give me her kid(s) for one month and I will have them in shape and if they want I will take them to McDonalds

  8. Shylock Holmes  •  Apr 5, 2012 @11:11 pm

    A good outcome indeed.

    Still, I'm filing this as 'Exhibit #3242524364 in why America needs to have a loser-pays legal system'. It would either
    a) Stamp out this bullcrap, or
    b) Create cathartic enjoyment when Monet Parham-Lee has to pay up for her stupidity.

  9. Ancel De Lambert  •  Apr 6, 2012 @1:42 am

    The can't say "no" part is just an excuse. The CSPI is a dedicated organization of vegetarian nutcases who want to see meat and fast-food destroyed. We'll probably one day see Monet's daughter come forward: "Couldn't say 'no?' Hell no, we never went."

  10. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States  •  Apr 6, 2012 @9:23 am

    >>> why America needs to have a loser-pays legal system'.

    I'm not sure this would be ideal, it would be good if the court had a system for looking at a brief on the case and then indicating if it is in the public interest to decide the issue or not.

    That is, let the court make a quick review of the apparent merits of a case and then decide if it should only proceed on a loser-pays basis. That would give us the best of both worlds, I'd think.

    It would allow justice a chance to occur even in "iffy" cases where one side has lots of money but the other does not, but allow the system to identify what appear to be frivolous cases and discourage them.

  11. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States  •  Apr 6, 2012 @9:28 am

    You could even make that one where the defendant side didn't even have to respond or argue against that until after the judge had made a temporary decision on the case as argued by the plaintiff.

    I.E., the plaintiff places a brief before the court. The court makes a tentative judgement on the merits of the case. If — and only if — the court sides with the plaintiff, then the defendant gets to review the plaintiff's claim, and file a rebuttal. The court then makes a final decision about whether it should proceed on a loser-pays basis or not.

    This way there's no benefit to filing pointless motions in an effort to harass the defendant, either.

  12. John  •  Apr 6, 2012 @1:53 pm

    @IGB: The scheme you sketch sound good, so long as the judge is impartial and has average intelligence. I think it too risky, though, to put that much power — total gatekeeper — in the hands of all judges. It doesn't take a great deal of cynicism or imagination to see judges preemptorally dismissing cases against his Rotary brother who owns the used car lot or against his sister-in-law's real estate firm.

  13. Shylock Holmes  •  Apr 6, 2012 @2:42 pm

    @IGB: The problem with your suggestion is that it views the loser pays system as a punishment for erroneous lawsuits. Judges are always going to be reluctant to impose that in practice – the defendant complains that the suit was actually reasonable, pleads hardship etc. So my guess is that you may not end up with much difference.

    The loser pays system just recognizes a simple fact – filing a lawsuit imposes costs, and someone has to pay those costs. It's not a statement about your suit being junk, just a statement that we put the costs on the losing party to encourage the person with the weaker case ex ante to either settle or bear the costs of proceeding.

  14. dfbaskwill  •  Apr 6, 2012 @3:06 pm

    The Center for Science in the Public Interest is actually just one guy and a secretary in a small office with a copy machine and an old dialed phone, I think. He once called Kung Pao Chicken "Death on a Plate". I've had it at least once a week since 1983, so I figure CSPI is full of crap. I'm having another plate tomorrow.

  15. Ken  •  Apr 7, 2012 @6:29 am

    My DuckDuckGo fu wasn't up to the job, but I seem to recall that one of the CA legislators who led the school soda ban effort once keeled over in a diabetic coma on the floor of the Lege.

  16. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States  •  Apr 7, 2012 @12:53 pm

    It doesn't take a great deal of cynicism or imagination to see judges preemptorally dismissing cases against his Rotary brother who owns the used car lot or against his sister-in-law's real estate firm.

    Ah, perhaps you misinterpret me. The judge is not ruling on the merits of the case to allow or deny it. He's only ruling on the "loser pays" issue, and hence, nominally and ideally, on whether it's reasonably in the public interest to decide the case without placing all the risk burden on the loser.

    It won't be perfect, but it should allow some cases to proceed which would clearly be impossible under a pure loser pays system, and which ought to still be able to proceed.

    I'm sure there will be abuses on both sides — judges ruling in favor of or against pet causes, but if you're going to show that little faith in the impartiality of judges, well, then you really can't claim to have any faith in the system at all.

  17. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States  •  Apr 7, 2012 @1:00 pm

    It's not a statement about your suit being junk, just a statement that we put the costs on the losing party to encourage the person with the weaker case ex ante to either settle or bear the costs of proceeding.

    And I'm saying that the only REAL problem is junk suits like this one, which it is in the attorney's interests to bring. They have nothing to lose, so why not? The prime aim of the loser pays scheme is to eliminate these kinds of cases, as far as I am concerned — attorneys looking for a steady paycheck from bogus suits.

    Any other benefits are icing on the cake, and it seems to me that there are certainly GOOD, worthy cases which would NOT proceed under a loser pays scheme.

  18. AlphaCentauri  •  Apr 7, 2012 @5:12 pm

    Sometimes a lawsuit or threat of a lawsuit is all that can keep people from behaving badly for profit. Think what it would be like if every business disregarded the law the way the "Credit Monitoring" robocallers do. Many would if they thought they could get away with it.

    But it doesn't make sense for plaintiffs who have suffered minimal personal losses to gain a windfall settlement, just because it would take a large settlement to get the attention of the badly behaved defendant. The lawyers and plaintiffs should be compensated based on their time and expenses — multiplied by a percentage that recognizes the risk they took with those expenses without any guarantee they would prevail. Anything above that ought to go to charity or the public treasury.

    Unless the other members of the class really want to put some personal effort into the case, it's enough compensation to know the badly behaved defendant was punished and will stop annoying us. We don't need some minimal reimbursement like a coupon for a discount on credit monitoring to compensate us.

  19. Ken  •  Apr 9, 2012 @7:26 am

    Sometimes a lawsuit or threat of a lawsuit is all that can keep people from behaving badly for profit.

    Shunning-induced failure to profit works pretty well: just takes a little time.

  20. Graham Shevlin  •  Apr 9, 2012 @11:50 am

    A lot of businesses have shown in the past that they regard fines and small lawsuit verdicts as another "cost of doing business". The reluctance of courts to penally sanction persistent offenders, plus the difficulty of obtaining tort damages from any government body, leads to civil litigation led by lawyers working on contingency. If you want to change this reality, then start by imposing proper remedies on offenders, including government bodies.