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Unhappy Dad Sues McDonald's Over Happy Meals

Father's complaint on toys cites Quebec law against marketing to kids under 13
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2018 9:05 AM CST
A Happy Meal box and toy are shown outside of a McDonald's restaurant in San Francisco on Oct. 1, 2010.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(Newser) – Antonio Bramante doesn't see the "happy" in one of McDonald's most famous offerings. The Canadian dad of three says he's cajoled every couple of weeks to take his little ones to McDonald's, and he figures he's forked over hundreds of dollars on Happy Meals. Now he's suing the fast-food empire, citing a Quebec ban on marketing to kids under the age of 13, the BBC reports. It's not so much the fries and nuggets that are firing up Bramante's beef with the restaurant: Per CTV, it's the fact that each Happy Meal comes with a toy, often tied to film franchises like Transformers or My Little Pony, and his kids are constantly haranguing him to go to McDonald's so they can get all the toys to finish off each set. Bramante also claims the restaurant targets kids by putting the Happy Meal toys right in their sightline inside the restaurant.

It's a practice, Bramante says in his class-action suit, that's "to the detriment of vulnerable consumers, their children, and their families." The Quebec marketing law, not seen much elsewhere in the world, has just three exceptions: ads in kids magazines, promos for certain children's events, and ads that appear on a company's packaging and labels, and in their windows and displays. McDonald's says it's poring over the suit, but it adds "we do not believe this class action has merit." Bramante's lawyer says anyone who purchased a Happy Meal in Quebec for a child under 13 from November 2013 onward can join the suit, which is seeking compensatory and punitive damages; it's unclear whether the consumer would need to be a Canadian citizen. (A $5 million McDonald's lawsuit, all over two slices of cheese.)

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