A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the popular chicken chain Buffalo Wild Wings, alleging “deceptive” business practices related to its popular menu item, the “boneless wings.”
According to the lawsuit, filed on March 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by Chicago resident Aimen Halim, the chain is falsely marketing and advertising its “boneless wings” as a unique product when they are actually just chicken nuggets.
The lawsuit accuses Buffalo Wild Wings of engaging in “false and deceptive marketing and advertising” practices that have potentially affected numerous customers across the country. Halim is representing himself and others who may have been similarly misled by the chain’s marketing tactics.
“The name and description of the Products (i.e., as ‘Boneless Wings’) leads reasonable consumers to believe the Products are actually chicken wings,” the lawsuit reads, according to TODAY. “In other words, that the Products are chicken wings that have simply been deboned, and as such, are comprised of entirely chicken wing meat.”
Halim alleges that he bought Boneless Wings from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant located in Mount Prospect, Illinois back in January of this year.
According to Halim’s complaint, he was under the impression that the menu item contained deboned chicken wings, based on its name and description. However, Halim claims that the product he received did not match his expectations.
“Unbeknownst to Plaintiff and other consumers, the Products are not wings at all, but instead, slices of chicken breast meat deep-fried like wings,” the lawsuit reads, according to TODAY. “Indeed, the Products are more akin, in composition, to a chicken nugget rather than a chicken wing.”
“Had Plaintiff and other consumers known that the Products are not actually chicken wings, they would have paid less for them, or would not have purchased them at all,” the suit continues. “Therefore, Plaintiff and consumers have suffered injury in fact, as a result of Defendants’ deceptive practices.”
The defendants in the lawsuit are Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. and its parent company, Inspire Brands, Inc. The legal action involves allegations made by a customer regarding the deceptive labeling of a menu item at one of the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants.
Upon contacting the companies for a statement regarding the lawsuit, a representative for both Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. and Inspire Brands, Inc. directed TODAY to a tweet that was apparently intended to be humorous in nature.
“It’s true. Our boneless wings are all white meat chicken. Our hamburgers contain no ham. Our buffalo wings are 0% buffalo,” the official Buffalo Wild Wings Twitter account wrote.
Our boneless wings are all white meat chicken.
Our hamburgers contain no ham.
Our buffalo wings are 0% buffalo.
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) March 13, 2023
“This clear-cut case of false advertising should not be permitted, as consumers should be able to rely on the plain meaning of a product’s name and receive what they are promised,” the suit continues. “This is particularly true in a case like this one, where consumers value actual wings, and where Defendant has no valid reason for misleading consumers, other than to promote a cheaper product along with its actual chicken wings.”
According to the legal filing, the plaintiff’s argument against Buffalo Wild Wings’ use of the “Boneless Wings” label is further supported by the fact that other companies have avoided using the term “wings” in similar menu items.
The lawsuit cites examples such as Domino’s Pizza, which offers a menu item named “Boneless Chicken,” and Papa John’s, which offers a similar menu item under the name “Chicken Poppers.”
The plaintiff alleges that these companies have found a way to accurately describe their product without the use of potentially misleading labeling.
“It should be noted that Domino’s Pizza and Papa Johns also sell actual chicken wings, and that, a restaurant named Buffalo Wild ‘Wings’ should be just as careful if not more in how it names its products,” reads the suit, according to TODAY.
The suit also states that “if Buffalo Wild Wings was being transparent with its customers, it could readily change the name of the Products” to “boneless chicken” or say on its menu that the “wings” are actually made of chicken breast meat. “Buffalo Wild Wings is well aware of this issue, but has refused to change its practices.”
The lawsuit is seeking to represent a significant number of consumers nationwide, potentially numbering in the thousands. These individuals are individuals who have purchased Buffalo Wild Wings’ “Boneless Wings” product from one of the chain’s over 1,200 restaurant locations across the country.
The plaintiff’s legal action appears to be part of a larger effort to hold food industry businesses accountable for the accuracy and transparency of their product labeling, which can have a significant impact on consumer purchasing decisions.
Halim is seeking “damages, injunctive relief, restitution, declaratory relief, and all other remedies the Court deems appropriate,” however, the suit does not say how much money he is seeking.