SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A San Francisco judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit against McDonald's over the restaurant chain's marketing of its signature Happy Meals, according to court documents.
McDonald's was accused of unfairly using toys to lure children into its restaurants. The proposed class-action lawsuit in a California state court sought to stop the company from using free toys to promote its Happy Meals in the Golden State.
The Happy Meal has been a huge hit for McDonald's -- making the company one of the world's largest toy distributors -- and spawning me-too offerings at most other fast-food chains.
But it also has come under fire from public health officials, parents and lawmakers who are frustrated with rising childhood obesity rates and weak anti-obesity efforts from restaurant operators, which are largely self-regulated.
Plaintiff Monet Parham, a mother of two, was represented by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group. CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said CSPI would discuss the possibility of an appeal with Parham.
"In time, the practice of using toys to market junk food will seem as inappropriate and anachronistic as lead paint, child labor and asbestos," Jacobson said.
Court documents show that Judge Richard Kramer dismissed Parham's claims on Wednesday, without giving her a chance to file an amended lawsuit. The documents do not contain any details of Kramer's legal analysis.
McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud said the company was pleased with Kramer's decision.
"We are proud of our Happy Meals and will vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food," Proud said.
The case in Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco is Monet Parham, on behalf of herself and those similarly situated vs. McDonald's Corp. et al., 10-506178.
Reporting By Dan Levine; Editing by Gary Hill and M.D. Golan