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James v. McDonald’s Corp.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    James sued McDonald’s for fraud for failing to endorse James’ award-winning game card and inducing buyers to buy McDonald’s products in hopes of winning a promotion that was not favorable to the patrons.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Prize-winning contests maintain contracts that outline the contest’s terms and rules that are made public.

    Facts.

    James purchased fries at McDonald’s that was a part of a game called Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The rules of the game were posted publicly and James claimed that she won a grand prize game card, which was denied by McDonald’s. After learning that McDonald’s employees stole the grand prize game cards, James sued McDonalds for fraud claiming that her prize-winning card was denied and the restaurant induced patrons into playing the game despite the low odds for winning. McDonald’s filed a motion to compel James to arbitrate her claims based upon the official rules for the game, and James claimed that she does not have to arbitrate because she did not agree to the official rules. The district court granted McDonald’s motion and James appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether prize-winning contests have contracts that outline the contest’s terms and rules that are made public?

    Held.

    Yes. The district court’s judgment is affirmed. James cannot force McDonald’s to redeem a prize when James does not consent to the official rules of the prize-winning contest. Similarly, James is bound to the rules of the promotion because the rules were made available to James.

    Discussion.

    In order to form a valid contract with the promoter of a prize-winning contest, a party entering the contest must abide by the official rules of the contest that are made public. A party entering a prize-winning contest is subject to the official rules of the contest even if the party does not read the rules of the promotion.


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