Court rejects Muslim man’s suit against fast food restaurant for inadequate warning of bacon in sandwich

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Lopez v. Wendy’s International, Inc., (ND OH, Oct. 23, 2012), a Muslim customer of a Wendy’s restaurant franchise in New York City sued claiming he was not adequately warned that the restaurant’s Asiago Chicken Ranch Club Sandwich contained bacon, which he is forbidden for religious reasons from eating. The cashier did not mention bacon as an ingredient when he asked what the sandwich contained.  An Ohio federal district court dismissed one of the defendants on the ground that Ohio was not the proper venue.  On the merits, it dismissed plaintiff’s free exercise claim because defendants were not state actors. It dismissed plaintiff’s Lanham Act claim on the ground that a one-time answer from a restaurant employee is likely not an “advertisement,” and at any rate there was no intent to deceive. Finally the court refused to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff’s state law claims.