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October 17, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Federal judge kicks KFC bucket lawsuit out of court

A federal judge in White Plains has dismissed a lawsuit against KFC in which a Hopewell Junction woman claimed that a bucket of fried chicken had sickened her.

Judge Nelson S. Roman ruled on Dec. 13 that the woman had failed to allege a plausible claim.

Last year, Anna Wurtzburger sued KFC, the chicken chain formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, for $20 million, claiming that the Yum! Brands subsidiary had engaged in deceptive advertising and practices.

Wurtzburger said she bought an eight-piece bucket of chicken in July 2016 after seeing a television commercial featuring actor George Hamilton as Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of the fast food franchise.

She paid $20 for the chicken.

The commercial depicted a bucket overflowing with chicken. It stated that “the meal could feed your whole family.”

But the bucket was not overflowing, Wurtzburger said. It “contained way less chicken than was shown in the advertisement.”

She said KFC was cheating customers by underfilling buckets of chicken.

What’s more, she alleged that the Colonel’s chicken injured her.

“Her stomach was upset with acid reflux and her gall bladder was removed and she had pain in her stomach and later found out the chickens were injected with hormones and injured plaintiff,” attorney Pamela J. Gabiger of Poughkeepsie wrote in the amended complaint. “This happened every time she ate the chicken.”

She returned to the Hopewell Junction KFC once a week from June through August 2016 and bought pot pie, which also made her sick.

The lawsuit goes on to describe a series of alleged practices, for instance, pumping steroids into baby chickens to make them grow faster.

“Just pulling up beside a chicken truck years ago,” Gabiger wrote to bolster Wurtzburger’s contention that she was injured by KFC chicken, “feathers would be flying, chickens jumping around in their cages. Now they are dead looking, like zombies, almost lifeless.”

KFC asked the court to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a legitimate claim.

Judge Roman agreed. He was not buying the heartburn and the larger-than-necessary-packaging arguments.

She received the precise number of chicken pieces she bought. The alleged deception, Roman said, is that she expected the bucket of chicken to be filled to the rim with more chicken than she ordered.

He found no merit to the claim that the ad pitch – “the meal could feed your whole family” – is misleading.

“Plaintiff fails to indicate how the phrase is deceptive or misleading,” Roman said, “other than to deem it so.”

As to her injuries, she merely alleges “acid reflux, and nothing more.

“Such allegations are insufficient and fall short of the injury sought to be addressed by the statutes.”