By ANDREW HILLEBRAND, Staff Writer
McDonald’s and one of its franchises agreed to a $700,000 settlement in a lawsuit claiming that it falsely advertised some of its food as halal.
Ahmed Ahmed, a Muslim man from Dearborn Heights, alleged that the chicken sandwich he ordered from the McDonald’s on Ford Road in Dearborn in September 2011 did not meet Islamic dietary standards, despite the franchise’s advertisements that it sells Halal chicken.
McDonald’s and Finley’s Management Co, which owns the franchise, agreed on January 18 to pay the $700,000, which will be split between Ahmed, his lawyers, a health clinic in Detroit and the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn. McDonald’s and Finley’s deny any liability, but say the settlement is in their best interest.
Ahmed’s attorney, Kassem Daklallah, alleges that after the restaurant ran out of Halal chicken, it sold non-Halal chicken.
Ahmed and Daklallah carried out an investigation after Ahmed’s early suspicion, and say they found that the restaurant had sold non-Halal food masquerading as Halal food “on many occasions.” The two filed a class action lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court in November 2011.
Daklallah and Ahmed believe McDonald’s was negligent, but not necessarily that it was attempting to deceive its customers.
“McDonald’s from the very beginning stepped up and took this case very seriously,” Daklallah said. “They made it clear they wanted to resolve this. They got ahead of the problem.”
Finley’s said it has a strict procedure for preparing and serving Halal food, with “Halal-only areas” in its restaurant.
This is only a preliminary deal, and the details, such as how to split up the money, will be worked out at the final hearing on March 1.
The class action suit is on behalf of any customers who bought products advertised as Halal from September 2005 to January 18, 2013. The two sides agreed to give the money to community-based organizations and charities that will benefit that group of people.