Ahmed v. McDonald’s

Prior Restraints (such as injunctions against defamation) – After a class action against McDonald’s and one of its franchises in Dearborn, Michigan for selling meat advertised as halal, even though it was not, was settled on terms providing only for cy pres payments to two local charities as well as substantial attorney fees and a hefty incentive payment to the named plaintiff, a local activist/lawyer undertook to organize community opposition to the settlement, using a Dearborn community Facebook page that he had long maintained. Claiming that some of the Facebook posts included false and misleading statements, Plaintiff persuaded the judge to enter a sweeping injunction requiring that all of the objections be taken off the Facebook page and replaced with the official notice and settlement agreement, and also forbidding the activist from making any public statements about the case that might be heard by class members. We moved to vacate the order on the ground that it is a constitutionally impermissible prior restraint, arguing as well that the order violated the due process rights of the class to decide whether too communicate opt-outs or objections to the Court after seeing what the activist has to say.

Recognizing that the judge’s likely approval of the settlement could be held up by an appeal, McDonald’s urged the judge to establish a new notice period withdraw the prior restraint on mootness grounds, theorizing that Moughni’s brief committed him to a course of conduct that would eliminate the claimed deception of class members. As reflected in the transcript posted here, the judge agreed to do so while warning Moughni about what she might do to him if he repeated certain statements.