May 10, 2023

Byron Allen Hits McDonald’s With $100M Lawsuit Over False Promises

byron allen with image of lawsuit and mcdonalds

Black media mogul Byron Allen, the owner of Allen Media Group (AMG), has hit McDonald’s with another massive lawsuit, claiming the corporation has lied about its commitment to Black-owned media.

Last week, Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks Inc and Weather Group LLC filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s seeking damages in excess of $100 million for fraud/false promise, violating California Civil Code 1711. The law holds corporations to their public promises and thereby redresses corporate fraud.

Fraud and False Promises

In May 2021, McDonald’s pledged to increase its advertising spend with Black-owned media companies from 2% to 5% of its total budget by 2024. However, Allen contends that the corporation has not honored this commitment.

“During the Black Lives Matter movement, hundreds of corporations made pledges to Black America, and unfortunately, they have not lived up to them,” said Byron Allen in a statement.

“McDonald’s is one of those corporations that has lied and made false promises. We must hold each and every one these corporations, including McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski, who was caught sending racist text messages, and its Board of Directors, fully accountable. The greatest trade deficit in America is the trade deficit between White corporate America and Black America, and we must close this trade deficit immediately.”

Allen’s AMG represents more than 90% of Black-owned media. Given the minimal amount McDonald’s spent with AMG in 2021, Allen questions whether the company allocated even 2% of its advertising budget to Black-owned media.

“The lawsuit seeks to hold one of the largest corporations in the world responsible for its lies.”

AMG’s lawsuit seeks damages exceeding $100 million, along with punitive damages and a permanent injunction mandating McDonald’s to fulfill its commitment transparently going forward.

As per Reuters, McDonald’s said it was proud of its record of investing in diverse communities and partners. The company dismissed Allen’s claims as baseless, accusing him of initiating a public smear campaign for personal gain.

“Per the lawsuit, McDonald’s said one thing and did another,” Skip Miller, partner in Miller Barondess, LLP and counsel for AMG said in a statement. “Per our lawsuit, this is a fraud on our client and on the public. The lawsuit seeks to hold one of the largest corporations in the world responsible for its lies.”

Allen’s $10 billion lawsuit

As previously reported by POCIT, Allen first filed a $10 billion federal lawsuit against McDonald’s in 2021, alleging its advertising practices perpetuate racial stereotyping and violate civil rights laws at the federal and state levels.

In an open letter Allen placed in the Chicago Tribune, Allen attacked McDonald’s “horrible systemic racism against Black people” and called for the replacement of its Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski and board of directors.

In an April 21 court filing, McDonald’s accused Allen of attempting to harass and coerce the company into an undeserved resolution.

Allen’s lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in California, but has since been reinstated and is scheduled to go to trial in September, the Chicago Tribune reports.

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Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)