Ahh, McDonald’s, the fast food that dreams and early onset diabetes diagnoses are made of.

Imagine heading to the local Mickey D’s to order your usual meal — a Deluxe Quarter Pounder — and looking down with dismay to find that you’ve only received one napkin. There’s simply no way you’ll be able to wipe the grease from a quarter pound of juicy beef from your face with only one napkin. You step up to the counter to ask for more, but you’re refused, and handed only a side of racism.

This is what one California man alleges in a $1.5 million lawsuit, and because being shamed by McDonald’s is a hefty burden to bear, he’s been unable to work ever since.

Ba-da-ba-ba-baaa, this guy was not lovin’ it — at all…

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

No, not in the way you think. I’m not talking about E-tickets and giant bow-tied mice and screaming, overtired kids being dragged around by the half-crazed parents determined to get their money’s worth. (“Have fun, dammit! Have fun!”) I mean in the way that the company, Walt Disney, creates a consistently positive and memorable experience year round for people from all over the world.

Whatever your impressions or memories of Disney World, most people agree that the company’s ability to make people happy is unrivaled. Executives and managers from companies in every industry pay thousands of dollars to study how the company does it at the Disney Institute. And the Institute even published a book on how to Disneyify your company called Be Our Guest. You can get the book at Amazon for about ten bucks; I recommend it.

So what can your law firm do to create the kind of world-class service that Mickey would be proud of? Let’s discuss….

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Bret Michaels

* It would probably be good if I had heard of more than a handful of the 34 most influential lawyers in the United States. Now this is going to turn into a Pokémon-esque game for me. [National Law Journal]

* Instead of fighting over App Stores, BigLaw, and SmallLaw, shouldn’t tech innovators be innovating instead? Because seriously, who fights over generic trademarks? That’s so SmallLaw. [New York Times]

* Bret Michaels suffered the horrors of the STD-laden Rock of Love Bus without injury, yet Broadway gave him a brain hemorrhage. Go figure. I guess every rose really does have its thorn. [Reuters]

* Speaking of buses, lawsuits seeking a total of $220 million have been filed in the wake of the World Wide Tours crash. On the bright side, the odds here will likely be better than playing the Mohegan Sun slots. [Sify News]

* A severely disabled mother was granted visitation time with her kids. If Terri Schiavo was alive today, she would have blinked with happiness after learning about this precedential decision. [Huffington Post]

* Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. Oops! McDonald’s, you forgot the public masturbation — but I guess that’s the special sauce. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Some “real housewives” of New Jersey are suing Campbell’s over salty soup. Let’s get real here: New Jersey housewives don’t know how to cook. Using the microwave doesn’t count. [Star-Ledger]

* Here’s a list of America’s Worst Bosses for 2010. Shocker: some of them are lawyers. [eBossWatch]

* Is this a legal and/or fair way to get a flaking eBay auction winner to pay up? Maybe all is fair in love and war e-commerce — although that approach didn’t work out well for Vitaly Borker. [Reddit via Consumerist]

* Remember the Syracuse Law satirical blog controversy? Well, now the administration is playing with FIRE. [Foundation for Individual Rights in Education]

* Filing a lawsuit against McDonald’s over Happy Meals makes me sad — and Walter Olson mad. (Disclosure: I once worked at McDonald’s.) [New York Daily News]

* Speaking of delicious things — and readers, please note my use of “delicious” to refer to food — how do you overcome the “cupcake challenge”? A panel of experts, including my law school classmate, Georgia state legislator Stacey Abrams, tackled this question in a panel discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. [The ChamberPost]

* Single D.C. lawyers, there’s still time to entrust your love life to Kashmir Hill. We have many responses, but there’s gender imbalance right now. Kash needs men — please help! [Above the Law]

rat dead mouse dead died.jpgAs former employees and occasional patrons of McDonald’s, we weren’t exactly “lovin’ it” when we read about this lawsuit:

Dallas Cowboys assistant coach Todd Haley, his wife Christine, and the family’s au pair, Kathryn Kelley, have sued a Southlake, Texas, McDonald’s.

[They allege that] the wife and nanny took home a salad, began to eat it, and discovered one of mankind’s little benefactors lying on its back, eyes open, expired.

Yep, that’s right: they found a dead rat in their salad. So who’s ready for lunch?
Instead of just removing the rat, drizzling on some extra dressing, and forging ahead, the Haleys decided to file a lawsuit:

“Chrissy and Katy have become ill and have been completely shocked,” the suit states. “Chrissy and Katy are so completely repulsed and disgusted with having a rodent in their McDonald’s salad that they now have great difficulty eating any prepared foods. Rather, they now prefer to prepare their foods from scratch…”

We like columnist Jim Gordon’s take on the case:

[E]ven in death, the rat performs a humanitarian service, shocking the women into a healthier way of eating, probably adding years to their lives. How do they respond? By asking McDonald’s to cough up $1.7 million…

[The complaint alleges:] “When the ladies see food, for the most part, they re-live the rodent-in-the-McDonald’s salad horror, and their extreme nausea rises again … A dead rodent in food being eaten causes a distress and trauma level not encountered elsewhere in a dining experience.”

Obviously, Mr. Casterline is not familiar with the dining experience provided by some of our finer Cerrillos Road establishments.

We agree. After all, health inspection reports show that rat droppings are more common than white truffles in the kitchens of America’s top restaurants.
One-point-seven million, for finding a deceased rodent in your salad, strikes us as a bit over-the-top. Maybe they’re entitled to a free large fries. Maybe.
We have previously expressed our disapproval of outsized damage demands in food contamination cases. For $1.7 million, you should actually have to EAT the rat — not just discover it “in food being eaten,” lying there and minding its own business.
$1.7 Million Is a Lot of Lettuce [The Santa-Fe New Mexican]
Earlier: Lawsuit of the Day: Shouldn’t This Be a Class Action?

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