Final deal approved in lawsuit filed by Michigan Muslims against McDonald's over non-halal food
Ahmed Ahmed claims he bought chicken sandwich in 2011 that wasn't halal
A judge has finalized a $700,000 settlement between McDonald's and members of Michigan's Muslim community over claims a Detroit-area restaurant falsely advertised food as prepared according to Islamic law.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen Macdonald gave the OK at a hearing Wednesday. She's overseen the case and refereed objections from outside groups since a preliminary deal was announced in January.
Ahmed Ahmed, the Dearborn Heights man who represents plaintiffs in the class-action, claims he bought a chicken sandwich in September 2011 at a Dearborn McDonald's but found it wasn't halal.
The settlement calls for distributing the money to Ahmed, a Detroit health clinic, Dearborn's Arab American National Museum and Ahmed's lawyers.
Dearborn attorney Majed Moughni is among the objectors. He says the settlement doesn't help those most affected.
The lawsuit technically covers anyone who bought the halal-advertised products between September 2005 and January from the restaurant and another McDonald's in the city with a different owner. The other location wasn't a defendant or a focus of the investigation.
Dakhlallah has said he was approached by Ahmed, and they conducted an investigation. A letter sent to McDonald's and the restaurant franchisee, Finley's Management, by Dakhlallah's firm said Ahmed had "confirmed from a source familiar with the inventory" that the restaurant had sold non-halal food "on many occasions."
In the settlement notice, Finley's Management said it "has a carefully designed system for preparing and serving halal such that halal chicken products are labeled, stored, refrigerated, and cooked in halal-only areas." The company added it trains its employees on preparing halal food and "requires strict adherence to the process."
Dakhlallah said giving money to the charities is best outcome, since most people wouldn't have kept their receipts, making "identifying class members who have valid claims nearly impossible."
Moughni argues that Dakhlallah and his colleagues could have made greater attempts to find those who were harmed and, failing that, identified more relevant organizations, such as Dearborn's public schools. He said the clinic is several miles away from the restaurant and the museum has nothing to do with halal food.
Moughni said he expects the settlement will be approved, and will consider appealing it.
"We think it's wrong," he said. "It's unfair for the class members."
There are only two McDonald's in the United States that sell halal products and both are in Dearborn, which has one of the nation's largest Arab and Muslim communities. Overall, the Detroit area is home to about 150,000 Muslims of many ethnicities.
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