The parties in obesity-related litigation, brought on behalf of several teenagers against fast-food giant McDonald’s Corp. in 2002, have filed a stipulation of voluntary dismissal with prejudice. Pelman v. McDonald’s Corp., No. 02-7821 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D.N.Y., stipulation filed February 25, 2011). The action followed entry of an order in December 2010 scheduling pre-trial discovery and motions filing and briefing for the individual claims remaining in this putative class action. A court refused to certify the action as a class in October.
Pelman was closely watched by industry and consumer advocates as it made several trips before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that ultimately narrowed the issues for trial. It was expected to be ground-breaking litigation that would allow access to industry documents which plaintiffs’ interests believed could be used to bring a flood of litigation against companies they blame for the nation’s increasing incidence of obesity.
The only claims that would have gone to trial in Pelman were allegations that the teenagers’ obesity-related health problems were caused by misleading advertisements which led them to believe that fast food could be consumed daily without any adverse health effects. The plaintiffs also alleged that the company failed to disclose that some product ingredients and processing were “substantially less healthy than were represented” and that its nutritional brochures and information materials were not readily available in company restaurants.