mcdonalds_happy-meal.jpgA San Francisco Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which a Sacramento mother alleged McDonald’s Corp. engaged in illegal deception by using toys to market its fast-food meals to children.

Judge Richard Kramer dismissed the lawsuit filed against McDonald’s in 2010 by Monet Parham, a mother of two young children, in a brief written order following a hearing on Wednesday.

The order did not give the judge’s reasoning, but Stephen Gardner, a lawyer for Parham, said Kramer stated during the hearing that he was dismissing the case because Parham hadn’t suffered any financial damage.

Gardner said the judge stated Parham bought a Happy Meal for one of her children and received what she paid for.

Parham’s lawsuit claimed McDonald’s violated California’s Unfair Competition Law, which prohibits deceptive business practices, by allegedly targeting its advertising promise of free toys with Happy Meals directly at children.

The law, as amended by state voters in a 2004 initiative, requires that individuals suing under the law must have personally suffered economic loss from the alleged unfair or deceptive practice.

Gardner works with the Washington, D.C.,-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, which represented Parham in the case. He said he will discuss with Parham whether she wants to appeal.

CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson said in a statement, “Using toys, of all things, to lure young children to fast-food meals is not responsible corporate behavior. It’s a predatory practice that undermines parents, causes rifts in families, and harms kids’ health.”

McDonald’s, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is the world’s largest fast-food chain.

Spokeswoman Danya Proud said the company was pleased with the decision.

“As we have maintained throughout these proceedings, we believe this lawsuit is without merit and detracts from the important issue of children’s health and nutrition,” Proud said.

“We are proud of our Happy Meals and will vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food,” she said.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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