Plaintiff Alleges “Boneless Wings” Are Really Mislabeled Nuggets

You decide (image: Javcon117 via Flickr, CC 2.0)

Apparently having seen all the stupid cases out there and not wanting to miss out, Aimen Halim has sued Buffalo Wild Wings in the Northern District of Illinois. He alleges that what the company calls “Boneless Wings” are, in fact, not “deboned chicken wings” as he claims to have believed. No, to the contrary, these products “are not wings at all, but instead, slices of “chicken breast meat” in the shape of a wing. (Stupid emphasis in original.) Gasp! A “clear-cut case of false advertising” that should not be permitted, Halim alleges, “as consumers should be able to rely on the plain meaning of a product’s name and receive what they are promised.”

This is one of those cases that is going to fail because of what we call the “reasonable consumer” standard, which essentially means that even very tolerant courts will dismiss a case like this on the pleadings if a “reasonable consumer” would either not be fooled by the alleged false advertising or, upon learning of the deception, would not care. This case fits one or both of those categories.

Mr. Halim, of course, claims he had no idea of the true composition of the aforementioned meat product, saying that he “reasonably believed the Products,” as he insists on capitalizing them, “were actually wings that were deboned (i.e., comprised entirely of chicken wing meat).” He did not want chicken breast meat in the shape of a chicken wing, he says; he wanted a deboned wing. Why did he want that? The complaint doesn’t say. How did he learn he had been deceived? The complaint doesn’t say.

I will now opine that when those particular allegations are missing or unclear, it is not infrequently because the plaintiff did not actually want the thing, and/or had not been deceived by the labeling of the thing, but rather has been told by an attorney that if he is willing to say so, he might get some money. I am in possession of no facts that would allow me to assert that this is what’s going on here.

I am now in possession of this fact, however: while God makes each chicken with “white meat” and “dark meat,” which contain different percentages of certain muscle fibers, fat, and protein, and therefore may taste noticeably different, breasts and wings are both considered white meat. (Some online sources disagree, but here’s the USDA saying that turkey breast and turkey wings are both white meat, and here it is saying the same about chickens.) Maybe some people can tell the difference between breast and wing meat, but probably not when breaded and/or covered in sauce. This to me seems to cast doubt on the plaintiff’s claim that he went in search of deboned chicken wings in particular.

Buffalo Wild Wings tweeted a tweet on Monday that appeared to be making a similar point. “It’s true,” the tweeter said. “Our boneless wings are all white meat chicken.” Also, “[o]ur hamburgers contain no ham,” and “[o]ur buffalo wings are 0% buffalo.”

Anyway, feast your eyes upon this soon-to-be-deboned complaint below.