A federal judge has given the go-ahead for media mogul Byron Allen’s massive lawsuit against McDonald’s. Allen is suing McDonald’s for $10 billion, alleging the company “has refused to advertise” on his networks–or Black media, in general.
The case heads to trial in May 2023.
The comedian turned media mogul owns Allen is the founder and chairman of Allen Media Group, which owns the Weather Group. In July he purchased the cable news channel Black News Channel, which shut down on March 31. The channel was founded in 2020 by former GOP Congressman Rep. J.C. Watts and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.
In December, Allen’s lawsuit against McDonald’s was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin, but Allen amended the suit, and it was reinstated shortly thereafter. Last week, Judge Olguin denied McDonald’s motion to dismiss the case again, CNN reported.
The court ruled that Byron Allen and his company, Allen Media Group, can try to prove in court that McDonald’s violated civil rights laws.
According to Allen in a press release, only a small portion — about $5 million of McDonald’s $1.6 billion annual advertising budget — goes to Black-owned media and that the company has “refused to advertise” on his networks, which include the Weather Channel and Comedy.TV.
He also accuses McDonald’s of relegating his TV networks to an “African American tire” that has a smaller ad budget and deprives the channels of millions of dollars in annual revenue.
“This is about economic inclusion of African American-owned businesses in the US economy,” Allen said in the press release. “McDonald’s takes billions from African American consumers and gives almost nothing back. The biggest trade deficit in America is the trade deficit between White corporate America and Black America, and McDonald’s is guilty of perpetuating this disparity.”
McDonald’s contends that the lawsuit it “meritless.”
“Their complaint is about revenue, not race, and plaintiffs’ groundless allegations ignore both McDonald’s legitimate business reasons for not investing more on their channels and the company’s long-standing business relationships with many other diverse-owned partners,” said McDonald’s lawyer Loretta Lynch, who was U.S. attorney general during President Barack Obama administration and now in private practice with the law firm Paul Weiss.
Following a series of lawsuits involving race, McDonald’s did announce earlier this year that it planned to increase advertising with Black-owned companies from 2 percent to 5 percent by 2024. The company has a troubled history with lawsuits involving race, The New York Post reported.
Byron Allen attends the 100th Anniversary of The Beverly Hills Hotel, June 15, 2012. (Katy Winn/Invision/AP) / Jim Skinner, former McDonald’s Corporation CEO, Oct. 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)