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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Today in Chain-Restaurant Litigation: Chipotle Loses, Taco Bell "Wins"

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Some days it feels like every major national restaurant chain is involved in litigation.

Today is one of those days.

First, we have this report from the San Francisco Chronicle that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to listen to an appeal from mega-burrito kingpins Chipotle after a lower court found that the company's service set-up -- you know, the long counter where the employee asks what kind of beans you want, and you say, "Pinto, no wait, black" and then you move down to the salsas, etc. -- discriminates against customers who are in wheelchairs.
The barrier "subjects disabled customers to a disadvantage that non-disabled customers do not suffer," the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July in a case from San Diego County.
Chipotle's argument struck Gut Check as especially patronizing:
Chipotle said it met wheelchair users' needs by bringing them spoonfuls of their preferred dish for inspection before ordering.
Did the Chipotle employees make airplane propeller noises as they brought the spoonfuls of food toward the customers' faces?

Meanwhile, you surely remember the class-action lawsuit accusing Taco Bell of serving "beef" that contains only 36% beef. The suit prompted a PR blitz by the beloved choice of marijuana-impaired taste buds, including giving away millions of tacos. Well, now the firm that filed the class-action suit against Taco Bell has dropped it.

Taco Bell claims vindication; the firm behind the suit claims it was withdrawn because Taco Bell bowed to pressure and changed how it labels its beef, which we now know to be 88% actual beef and 12% murdered hobo other.

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