That Time McDonald's Was Sued For Overcharging Its Soda

McDonald's soda cup
McDonald's soda cup - Rapideye/Getty Images

McDonald's has faced many lawsuits over the years, some of which have even cost the company quite a bit of money. In one case, the fast food restaurant was once sued when a customer accused the chain of double-taxing its soft drinks.

In November 2016, Cook County, Illinois, lawmakers voted to tax sweetened beverages. It went into effect in August 2017. Any customer who purchased sugary beverages, including soda, would be required to pay an additional cent per ounce served. So, for example, a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola would have $0.12 tacked onto the price tag.

In September 2017, Yvvan Wojtecki purchased a meal at McDonald's. After he received his receipt, he noticed that the fast food chain included a 23-cent tax for the beverage in the subtotal. He believed that the entire order, including the beverage tax, was taxed again with the county sales tax. Despite Wojtecki's claim that the restaurant charged him too much, the lawsuit went nowhere.

Read more: The Ultimate American Fast Food Restaurants Ranked

Wojtecki Agreed To Dismiss The Suit

Soda fountain at McDonald's
Soda fountain at McDonald's - Mario Tama/Getty Images

Wojtecki filed the lawsuit on August 8, 2017, claiming he paid two cents more than he should have for the meal. Though it was unclear how many other customers had been affected by the double taxing, Wojtecki sought a class action lawsuit to reach others who may have paid too much.

The lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Thomas Mulroney just a week after it was filed. After McDonald's franchise owner Nick Karavites worked with Wojtecki and lawyer Daniel Seidman, it was determined that Wojtecki was not overcharged after all, the Chicago Tribune reports. The receipt, as well as the existence of multiple taxes, was determined to have been misread by Wojtecki. The dismissal was voluntary.

The sweetened beverage tax was eventually repealed in Cook County on December 1, 2017. Fortunately for those who paid the sugary beverage tax while it was active, it seems that there was no cause for concern over double taxation at the fast food restaurant.

Seattle McDonald's Locations Had A Similar Issue

Soda cup from McDonald's
Soda cup from McDonald's - Mario Tama/Getty Images

A Seattle McDonald's had a similar issue in 2018. Some McDonald's locations may have added the extra money to account for refills on sugary beverages. According to Seattle news station KIRO 7, McDonald's locations surrounding the city were overcharging customers. One reporter purchased a small beverage but found that the added tax was roughly that of a medium-sized beverage.

Seattle's sweetened beverage tax of 1.75 cents per ounce went into effect in 2018. The extra charge was reportedly to account for free refills. Signs were posted to discourage diners from getting more than one beverage, and the surcharge was eventually removed altogether.

However, there is one McDonald's beverage-related lawsuit that gained some traction. According to NPR, the 1992 case of Stella Liebeck is one of the most well-known suits against the chain. The then 79-year-old Liebeck spilled the fast food chain's coffee on herself, causing third-degree burns that required medical attention. The lawsuit found that Liebeck was not the first to have been burned by the beverage and that McDonald's served its coffee much hotter than other companies. In September 2023, another customer filed a lawsuit against the restaurant for similar injuries.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.