Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Taco Bell might sue the Alabama law firm that filed a lawsuit against it, claiming the company's meat products do not meet the definition of beef as spelled out in federal guidelines.
The Beasley Allen law firm, of Montgomery, announced last week that it had dropped the lawsuit because Taco Bell had made "changes in marketing and product disclosure." But Taco Bell officials said they had changed nothing as a result of the lawsuit, emphasizing that no money was exchanged and no settlement agreement was reached.
Greg Creed, CEO of Taco Bell, said the company could sue Beasley Allen, and it probably has several viable legal avenues to pursue. "I'm definitely sure that we could sue them for the damage they have caused to our brand," Creed told CNN.
News reports indicate the lawsuit indeed caused damage. Christian Science Monitor reports that Taco Bell spent $3 to $4 million for a nationwide advertising campaign to combat charges raised in the lawsuit. Associated Press reports that Taco Bell's first-quarter operating profit declined 13 percent.
Beasley Allen has pretty much gone into hiding since dropping the lawsuit. Dee Miles, chief attorney on the case, has not been available for interviews. I sent an e-mail last Thursday to partner Jere Beasley, requesting an interview about the Taco Bell lawsuit. He has not responded.
What grounds does Taco Bell have for a lawsuit against Beasley Allen? I don't pretend to be an expert on business torts, but I suspect some form of tortious interference might be one route. The company probably has a case for malicious prosecution and abuse of process. Both of those torts involve misuse of the legal process to intentionally cause harm to an individual or entity.