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  • The Mother of All Frivolous Lawsuits

    Monet Parham, an employee of the California Department of Public Health, has lent her name—and that of her daughter Maya, age 6—to a preposterous class-action lawsuit alleging that McDonald’s is “unfair” to parents. The lure of a Happy Meal toy, Parham claims, so provokes Maya’s “pester power” that familial conflict ensues.

    We’re not making this up.

    The real tragedy here is that Parham is free to file a wholly frivolous lawsuit, while there’s no recourse for McDonald’s to recoup its legal costs. Nor can Maya hold her mother responsible for thrusting her into the national spotlight as a “pest” when, in reality, there’s nothing the least bit untoward about the little girl’s attraction to toys.

    Perpetrating this scam is the (so-called) Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), whose bread and butter is filing baseless lawsuits against major food manufacturers and restaurants, including Denny’s, Burger King, Coca Cola, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. All of which generates loads of front-page headlines and major bucks from liberal foundations. But were it not for the capitulation of some gutless corporations, the CSPI would likely have been rendered powerless a long time ago.

    To their credit, McDonald’s executives have pledged to “vigorously defend” the Happy Meal against the CSPI suit, the particulars of which ought to make every responsible parent wince. To wit:

    • “Maya has requested Happy Meals from Parham because of McDonald’s marketing practices, and sometimes Parham, not wishing to cause family rancor, purchases such meals.”
    • “Because of McDonald’s marketing, Maya has frequently pestered Parham into purchasing Happy Meals, thereby spending money on a product she would not have otherwise purchased.”
    • “Maya, age six, continually clamors to be taken to McDonald’s ‘for the toys.’ Maya learns of Happy Meal toys from other children in her playgroup, despite Parham’s efforts to restrict Maya’s exposure to McDonald’s advertising and access to Happy Meal toys.”

    It’s rather perverse for Parham to claim that McDonald’s is “interfering” in her family while, at the same time, she’s inviting judicial intervention into parenting decisions. As an employee with the nutrition section of California’s health department, Parham can already nag her fellow citizens about their eating habits. But asking the court to strip parents of their authority to decide what to feed their children constitutes Nannyism of a different scale.

    CSPI lawyers were undoubtedly emboldened to file suit after officials in Santa Clara County, California, in April, imposed a ban on Happy Meals there. Likewise, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in November banned Happy Meals and other toy giveaways associated with foods containing more sugar, sodium, and fat than the food fascists regard as appropriate.

    Nor does it seem coincidental that the lawsuit coincides with congressional approval of an unprecedented regulatory takeover of the nation’s food supply by the Food and Drug Administration. With government now controlling the provision of such basic services as food, housing, health care, and the like, we can only hope that the regulatory pendulum will soon swing back toward the freedoms upon which this nation was founded.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    41 Responses to The Mother of All Frivolous Lawsuits

    1. McRibisBack, DC says:

      You can buy the Happy Meal toys separately, so the argument that the mother needs to buy the food "for the toys" is completely erroneous.

    2. Rick, Chicago says:

      The decision of what any child eats belongs to the parents. Last time I checked, the vast majority of kids living at home do NOT buy their own food. It's called parenting, perhaps Ms. Parham should take a class and/or learn how to say "No".

    3. NoControl Louisiana says:

      It seems the logic here would extend to ANY advertising. Is she going to sue Mattel, Wal-mart, the Hannah Montana clothing line?

    4. Jones, Iowa says:

      Gee, how about telling your kid "no" when she pesters you. If I gave my three kids everything they wanted simply because they pestered me – I would be broke and insane. It all comes back to people not wanting to take responsibility for themselves or their children. They would much rather hand the control over to the government so they don't have to do anything that takes any sort of discipline or self control.

      Her inability to control her child's pestering ways is no reason to sue a company. It is ridiculous and lawsuits like this are a waste of everyone's time and money

    5. Linda, New Jersey says:

      What, pray tell, is this stupid parent going to do when the children in her daughters circle start talking about designer clothing and automobiles? Will McDonalds have to pay for the shrink Mayo is going to need when she grows aware of how her mother has used her?

    6. Nola Pellegrini says:

      I would testify on behalf of McDonald's. My 2 1/2 year old son has eaten at McDonald's several times and has never pestered me for a Happy Meal because I as the parent have chosen not to introduce him to it. He gets a burger and a water and is just fine with that. Sometimes when we go to a store (any store) he begs for a toy or a ball or something that he sees. I simply tell him no, he cries for a few minutes and we go on our way. If and when he starts begging for Happy Meals, i will simply tell him no. Its called personal responsibility people. This lawsuit is absolutley ridicuous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    7. GDRN, FL says:

      This mother should grow up, be an adult and take charge of her child. It's called being the parent! This problem, of course, could and likely is the result of behind the scene payoffs to the mother from the activists at the CSPI. This so called Center for Science in the Public Interest is always looking for it's next "useful idiot". Any judge whose reasoning powers come close to that of "a reasonable and prudent man", would toss this nonsense out with a reprimand and warning to not try such foolishness again.

    8. Anna says:

      Gosh, I remember enjoying Cracker Jacks partly for the toy in the mix – a fond childhood memory. Sounds like this mother found, by retaining a lawyer, a money fix instead of firm parenting.

      Solution: If her child wants a cute McDonald toy eat the broccoli first, make it into learning about discipline and self-restraint. In today's world that is worth so much more than blaming others.

    9. Anna says:

      Eat the broccoli first.

    10. GDRN, FL says:

      This appears to be another of many attacks on freedom, liberty, and self determination by the fascist state of California. Similar attacks were launched in the 30's in Germany.

    11. Anna says:

      Broccoli first!

    12. Devasahayam, Falls C says:

      Parham has no case whatsoever–she has to learn when to put her foot down (does she think she is the ONLY mum on the planet who has to bear her child's pestering?) and say "no".

    13. Big Ugly, Wyoming says:

      Sounds like Mrs. Parham needs to grow up and attempt to be an adult. If her 6 year old child has the ability to 'force' this woman into doing things she would 'normally not do' …….this woman certainly has no business working in the California Department of Public Health.

      Terminate her immediately.

      Let her work at McDonald's – then see how willing she is to shut-down her source of income.

    14. Patrick Peper, Louis says:

      Now what is next? Are we going to change the name of the United States of America to the United Nanny States of America? Give me a break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    15. RICHARD DAVIS, MEHOO says:


    16. Webb says:

      What is wrong with people these days? More and more jokers want the Government to step in and take control of their lives because they are too scared or lazy to do it themselves. Now, a parent who doesn't have toe intestinal fortitude (guts) to say no to a six year old? So the six year old is running the home? IMHO, by the time this little lady is a teen, she will have full control & Mom will be jumping through the hoop. Bending over backwards so her little girl doesn't have to face reality? Real life? And these people breed, multiply AND vote?

    17. JWillard, Plymouth, says:

      The woman self admits she can not tell her children no when they need to be told no, then perhaps she isn't equipped to be a parent and should have the state take her children. I mean they live in California, I know the stat would love to take them there.

    18. Jim, Mesa AZ says:

      Hmm…. I have a problem with Victoria Secret commercials and how they affect my sons behavior…. hmm….

    19. Miki, Chesapeake VA says:

      Good grief!!! What next?!!!!! I reared 7 children and a simple "No" took care of most whining demands. Especially whining. Each of us, are responsible for one's decisions, we don't need some inept parent to try to make decisions for us. Throw the case out of court – it's preposterous!!

    20. Ron Salsbury, New Br says:

      A perfect example of whats wrong with this country…..the fact that we allow these kind of frivilous law suits to even be filed, let alone heard. It just shows that we have too many attorneys with nothing to do. We constantly joke about lawyers, but the bottom line is they do as much harm to our society as they do good. They have created their own perpetual self feeding alliance, which is taking over every aspect of our daily lives. You can't buy a paperclip without signing a 6 page "terms of agreement". So I don't blame the woman who filed this lawsuit, I blame the legal environment for allowing and encouraging her actions.

    21. Bea Vines, Daytona B says:

      Excuse me, Mommy! How does your child come near McDonalds unless YOU take her. If you object to what they sell or how they sell it, I suggest you go hom and cook someting for her yourself!

    22. ace says:


    23. LeRoy Peoria, AZ says:

      Who is the adult? I have to say no to my granddaughter all the time. If your so weak you cannot say no to your children "WHY DO YOU HAVE THEM?" Buck up buttercup and stand by your NO. Next we will not be able to have toys at the mall because mall food is there. Take responsibility for yourself The United States doesn’t have the money to do this for you. You might move to Russia or Mexico I don’t want you in my country.

    24. Pat says:

      This is why we have a nation of self-centered teens and young adults. Mom has no spine and probably feels guilty for not spending more time with Maya, so she lets Maya have what she wants to assuage Mom's guilt. I have seen it plenty of times, kid sets up a ruckus when Mom says no, kid turns into the brat from Hell because he/she knows that Mom will give in to stop the tantrum. Kids are smart, they know when they can push something to get their way. Mom is not doing her daughter any favors, when Maya gets out into the real world she will find out fast that others are not going to let her get away with brattiness and whining. It is a tough lesson for spoiled kids….Mom: Just say "NO" and mean it! In the long run, it is by far the best and less cruel thing to do. Signed, an experienced mom and grandmother.

    25. Roger Meredith says:

      The job should be done away with if that is all she has to do. Send her and the child (brat) home. And the lawyers that are filing a suit such as this should be dis-barred! If any judge would be fair, things such as these should be thrown out of court to the dung heap.

    26. Brent, Houston says:

      "…thereby spending money on a product she would not have otherwise purchased.” That's how marketing works, my friends.

    27. John says:

      There are entirely too many baseless lawsuits in our current U.S. environment. If memory serves me correctly, England had a similar serious problem with frivolous lawsuits. Their solution ? The losing party has to pay the entire legal expenses of both parties. Guess what ? Stupid, frivolous lawsuits diminished markedly.

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    29. Bud Lang San Antonio says:

      Well it is happening in California, what did you expect. On top of that you can't fix "stupid." The real goofy part is that there is a lawyer out there who will take this opportunity to dip into the pot at a rate of at least 35%, He, or she, could care less about who wins or what is right or wrong, as long as they make some money. Worse than that they will concoct an argument that actually sounds reasonable to some liberal judge that will actually hold said suit legal and binding. Com'on Mom, go home and raise your child instead of the price of burgers so you can get some cash. Don't you realize the public ultimately pays for this garbage. Better yet buy some hot coffee, hold it between your legs, spill it and burn yourself and then file a suit. That has already worked, stupid as it was.

    30. Spiritof76, NH says:

      This illustrates why we need "plaintiffs pay" tort reform. We must reduce the number of useless lawyers trying to make a fast buck by praying on successful corporations and individuals. John Edwards and Alan Greyson are two examples of lawyer-parasites getting richer at the expense of productive endeavors.

    31. robert, Virginia says:

      The courts should automatically award damages to the injured party whenever the lawsuit is determined to be frivolous. This would bring a quick halt to these lawsuits when these folks realize that frivolous lawsuits can be costly to themselves.

    32. Bigotist says:

      It appears to me she's not being cared for properly at home or at work, and she's taking her frustrations out on her daughter to receive some attention– Women's hormones can play a huge part in personal recognition– A true mother would be home with her child, not at work, with someone else influencing her daughters life !!!!

    33. Hi Desert Ed, On the says:

      Perhaps some concerned citizen who is familiar with the circumstances of the abuse this child is being subjected too should contact the local CPS (child protective services) office.

      The child is obviously being abused by a mother who is (by her own admission) incapable of exerting normal and EXPECTED parental control and supervision of the activities and diet of this 6 year old child.

      By removing the child from the clutches of this self confessed abuser the "mother" would no longer have any "legal interest" in pursuing this action.

      I seriously doubt that any CPS official would pursue the matter as the attendant legal costs could have a very negative effect on the future promotion prospects of the official advancing the matter before the courts.

      Since the action would be pursued by a large governmental bureaucracy I doubt that pro-bono legal assistance would be available, nor would the local D.A. office be interested in spending limited resources to advance this cause.

    34. Bobbie says:

      what a disappointment of a mother to exploit her child as a "pest" only to reveal to the public her inability to parent and blame her failure on McDonald's. Must vote democrat?

    35. Richard H, Orange, C says:

      I think that the responses are all saying the same thing: "This MOTHER needs to be a PARENT!" What the H E double hockey sticks is this mother doing other than looking for a big fat settlement?

      I question the parenting skills of the MOTHER. Maybe she should have her child taken from her because of the poor parental environment.

      This should NEVER have entered a court phase.


    36. Dave says:

      Sometimes the most loving word is NO!! All children push the envelope trying to find boundaries hence the Ten Commandments are essential a list of No's.

      The alternative of suing everybody who can be blamed for your unwillingness to say NO means you'll continue to hear NO and never learn to say it yourself.

    37. Sue, Michigan says:

      The mother is the problem. She doesn't seem to have the ability to say No to her child concerning toys or food. Lawsuits like hers take up court time and taxpaper money. Shame on her.

    38. JohnM2, Henrico, VA says:

      I see no place where Parham is referred to as Mrs. Looks like another unwed/single mother looking for a free ride. And with the legal system in CA being what it is, she will probably get it. This woman and CA have sunken to the lowest of the low. The quicker CA breaks off from the remainder of the continent and floats under the Polar Ice Cap the better.

    39. Thomas Bacon says:

      Thank God for government jobs – or else this woman would likely not be employable!

    40. Jan St Pete FL says:

      The fact that someone can file a lawsuit this idiotic is disgusting! This woman needs parenting skills to say the least! The Public Health Dept here offers parenting classes any ideas there? Also if the Lawyers who filed these lawsuits had to pay the oppositions legal fees as punishment when they lose, then there would probably be a lot less of them filed!

      Personal Responsibility and Good Parenting, are still the core of what people need to get back to!

      Thanks for letting me have my say!

    41. I agree that this lawsuit is ridiculous, it is a form of judicial activism by the court that allowed the complaint to proceed and the public health employee. However, let us be clear: mcDonalds is no better than a tobacco company. Their products kill millions of people every year. Like the tobacco company, McDonalds claims that using their product is a matter of personal choice and fundamental liberty. People have the right to commit suicide through eating poison, and companies should have the right to advertise with Joe Camel or Ronald McDonald Happy Meal Toys. To better support my argument, I encourage all to see Fast Food Nation…..now let's go get some McDonalds food! Forest_wilson@twitter

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