“The $20 Million Bucket of Chicken”

KFC’s menu states that its “Fill-Up” $20 deal includes eight pieces of chicken plus a variety of sides that it thinks will serve a party of four. A Hudson Valley, N.Y. woman says she was misled by advertising materials that showed an overflowing bucket. The company offered her a coupon in recompense for her disappointment, but she wants $20 million instead in individual (not class) damages. [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use; Fortune] More: Baylen Linnekin rounds up poultry-related litigation.


  • This is one of those facts look like Monty Python cases. The plaintiff’s name is Wurtzburger. Wurtz comes from a medieval German word for Herb or Vegetable. Thus, Veggieburger is suing Kentucky Fried [over “Pieces of 8”] Chicken.

  • At 60 years of age, I have still never purchased any fast food that looked like the pictures on the menu and in the commercials. Is that actionable? I am asking for a friend.

  • Hmmmm. Coupon. Or $20 million.

    Walter, I’ll go for the $20 million.

    Don’t cost nothin.

    • Don’t get nothin either. I’ll take the coupon and hope Popeye’s will match 🙂

  • “Don’t cost nothin.” – According to the paperwork, it was $210 to file it. But it certainly seems that the plaintiff’s attorney didn’t want to spend any valuable *time* on this complaint. It smacks of a rush job.

    Reading the complaint, it is not at all clear whether she wants to sue the store that sold the chicken or the corporate KFC. The lawsuit alleges that the defendant is a domestic corporation, but KFC is not from New York – they’re from Kentucky and the corporation is officially registered in Delaware. Certainly, corporate KFC does not have an intersection (seriously, an intersection? Could they not even be bothered to get the actual address?) in Hopewell Junction NY as its “principal place of business”. So that would seem to indicate that they meant the one store. But it’s unclear how one store could have any control over TV advertising, unless this particular store is not owned by a franchisee. (I guess the lawsuit is against corporate KFC, or at least *they* think so, since they filed an action to remove to federal court on diversity grounds.)

    The lawsuit alleges “a violation of the applicable sections of the general business laws of the State of New York pertaining to false advertising and misleading trade practices.” Are they not going to say which sections apply? The defendant and the court can just guess?

    On its face, I’m not even sure this lawsuit even alleges anything that the defendant did wrong, and not just because they failed to specifically cite the relevant statutes. It doesn’t even cite enough facts to do that. Maybe the chicken was small and didn’t fill (or overflow) the bucket, but the lawsuit doesn’t even bother to actually allege that. It alleges merely that there were eight pieces of chicken in it, and that the advertisement showed an overflowing bucket. I’m not exactly sure why the plaintiff was surprised that there were “only” eight pieces of chicken in the bucket when she purchased, according to the complaint, an “eight piece bucket of chicken”. Exactly how many pieces did she THINK would be in there?

    But even assuming there WAS deceptive practices or false advertising and that it was properly pled, I’m not sure what the argument is as to why the plaintiff deserves $20 million for this. The lawsuit certainly doesn’t say. The complaint says she only paid $20, and I don’t see any other way they allege she was damaged. Where does the one million multiplier come in? The lawsuit doesn’t even suggest a theory as to how this could be. According to New York law (if I got the “applicable sections” correct), triple damages or $1000 may be awarded for willful or knowing deceptive business practices. For false advertising, it’s triple damages or $10000. Add those together (I’m not even sure if you can, but let’s be generous), and you get $11000, which is quite a lot for a $20 bucket but still well short of $20 million. And even the triple damages or $1000/$10000 is at the discretion of the judge – the action itself is supposed to be for actual damages or $50/$500. And the lawsuit doesn’t even reference statutory or punitive damages; it just has the bare allegation that the plaintiff “suffered” $20 million in damages.

    And that’s not the only bare allegation; several paragraphs seem to just be reciting legal conclusions. The complaint is rather short, so it’s not like it’s all just covered elsewhere or something.

    Some of the language is just awkward – “Defendant was therefore aware that defendant was intentionally…” They were aware of their own intent? It would be rather strange for a corporation to be unaware of something it was intentionally doing.

    Last and certainly least, the attorney checkmarked where she should have initialed, in the section declaring that she didn’t know how to use a computer well enough to e-file like she’d otherwise have to. Perhaps an innocent mistake, and perhaps another indication that she didn’t even want to spend enough time on this to read the instructions.

    I’d be willing to bet that this lawsuit is dismissed, probably for failure to state a claim. Frankly, I’d like the court to call the attorney in and ask her some uncomfortable questions as to how she thinks her lawsuit is supported by the law and how much due diligence she thinks she needs to do before filing, but I doubt that will happen.

    • David C,

      I get the impression you spent more time on the pleading than the plaintiff’s attorney did.

  • The important-to-me question: does she get a knife with that bucket?

  • What? No allegation of intentional infliction of emotional distress?

    The attorney should be disbarred.

  • The complaint is barely intelligible. And what lawyer who graduated in 1998 doesn’t know how to use a computer? I mean seriously . . . WTF?????