Byron Allen to appeal judge’s decision in $100 million fraud lawsuit against McDonald’s

Allen Media Group accused the fast-food chain of never intending to carry out its promise to increase spending with Black-owned outlets,

Mariah Carey, Don Cheadle, Misty Copeland, Dr. Kizzmekia S Corbett-Helaire, Tamron Hall, Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Eddie Murphy, Al Sharpton and Denzel Washington, TheGrio Awards, TheGrio Awards 2023,
Byron Allen attends the 2nd Annual theGrio Awards at The Beverly Hilton on October 21, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for theGrio)

Byron Allen plans to appeal after a Los Angeles judge dismissed his $100 million lawsuit against McDonald’s for failing to increase ad spending with Black-owned media outlets. 

Allen is the founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, which owns theGrio and other properties. In a Feb. 2 ruling, Judge Mel Red Recana of the Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit, which lists AMG’s The Weather Group LLC as a plaintiff. The judge ruled McDonald’s still has the rest of 2024 to fulfill its promise to increase advertising spending with Black-owned companies. The court also found that AMG would likely lose the case if it went to court.

In May 2021, McDonald’s announced a four-year plan to increase spending with Black-owned companies from 2 percent to 5 percent of its national ad buy. Allen Media Group developed a $30 million ad-spend proposal that McDonald’s rejected, according to a declaration by AMG chief revenue officer Darren Galatt.

Allen’s lawsuit, filed on May 4, 2023, alleged that the fast-food giant agreed to spend only a small portion of the proposed amount. AMG accused the chain of never intending to carry out its promise, instead using the pledge as a marketing scheme to increase sales and avoid bad publicity. 

Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, plans to appeal a judge’s dismissal of his lawsuit against McDonald’s. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for Allen Media Group / Byron Allen)

“We disagree with the decision,” Allen’s attorney, Louis “Skip” Miller, told Deadline in a statement. “The California legislature enacted a law, Civil Code [Section] 1711, prohibiting companies from making false statements to the public. This lawsuit seeks to uphold that law. We’re going to appeal this decision.” 

McDonald’s applauded the judge’s decision in a statement, saying, “The court dealt Mr. Allen a crushing blow by dismissing this case for good, ruling that he failed to show that his claims had even ‘minimal merit,’ and the loss requires Mr. Allen to pay McDonald’s legal fees.”

Miller, Allen’s attorney, told Deadline that a separate federal lawsuit against the Golden Arches is still pending. This $10 billion lawsuit claims that McDonald’s engages in racial stereotyping by structuring its advertising tiers based on race.

Tuesday’s decision “in no way affects Allen Media’s lawsuit pending in federal court for racial discrimination in contracting for advertising,” Miller explained in a statement to Deadline. “That lawsuit against McDonald’s is alive and well — and is headed for trial.”

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