McTorts: The Social and Legal Impact of McDonald's Role in Tort Suits

51 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2011 Last revised: 2 Jan 2012

Date Written: November 24, 2011


This article looks at McDonald’s, impact on public policy, and tort law from historical and social psychology perspectives, following McDonald’s from its beginnings in the mid-1950’s through today. By examining McDonald’s Corp. v. Steel and Morris (McLibel), Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants (Hot Coffee), and Pelman v. McDonald’s Corp. (Childhood Obesity), I demonstrate that certain tort cases involving McDonald’s have had particularly important social and legal consequences that I attribute to McDonald’s special influence over the human psyche, beginning in childhood. In explaining McDonald’s extraordinary power over the public imagination and how this affects lawsuits involving it, I rely on the social psychology approach called situationism that recognizes the strong effect that environmental influences can have on individual decision-making. I conclude that lawsuits involving McDonald’s have had and will continue to have important social and legal consequences because of the unique role this corporation plays in our lives.

Suggested Citation

Forell, Caroline Anne, McTorts: The Social and Legal Impact of McDonald's Role in Tort Suits (November 24, 2011). Loyola Consumer Law Review, Vol. 24, No. 2, p. 101, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Caroline Anne Forell (Contact Author)

University of Oregon - School of Law ( email )

1515 Agate Street
Eugene, OR Oregon 97403
United States

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