Hueston Hennigan secured a complete victory for its client McDonald’s against Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks, Inc. and Weather Group, LLC, through a motion brought under California’s “anti-SLAPP” statute.
Allen sued McDonald’s in California state court in 2023, after McDonald’s announced its goal to increase spending with diverse-owned media companies, production houses, and content creators. Allen’s suit claimed that McDonald’s goal was an enforceable promise and that McDonald’s had engaged in fraud by failing to spend at least $50 million per year with his companies. The Court granted McDonald’s special anti-SLAPP motion to strike, dismissing Allen’s lawsuit in full after determining that McDonald’s conduct was protected and Allen failed to make a prima facie showing that he could prevail. McDonald’s is entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs for defending against Allen’s lawsuit.
“This win represents full vindication for McDonald’s. By rejecting Allen’s effort to convert McDonald’s good faith DEI initiative into a personal money grab, and finding that his claim against McDonald’s lacked even “minimal merit,” the Court has brought a quick end to Allen’s baseless claims of racism,” said John Hueston, co-lead counsel for McDonald’s.
Moez Kaba, co-lead counsel added, “ESN has been on a campaign to sue McDonald’s to obtain, through the courts, what it cannot achieve in the market. The Court’s ruling is a powerful message: while it may be easy to file meritless but sensationalized lawsuits, there are hefty consequences for doing so.”
The dismissal is a major blow against Allen’s efforts to smear McDonald’s through baseless lawsuits. Hueston Hennigan also represents McDonald’s in a case brought by Allen under the federal civil rights laws, alleging that McDonald’s refused to advertise with his companies because of Allen’s race. Hueston Hennigan looks forward to proving these allegations to be similarly false.
The Hueston Hennigan team included John Hueston, Moez Kaba, Michael Todisco, Karen Ding, Justin Greer, Arianna Demas, and Segun Babatunde.