Taco Bell has responded to a lawsuit alleging that its beef mixture contains more filler than meat by taking out full page ads declaring "thank you for suing us." A CNNMoney.com report on the campaign can be found here.
A number of commentators have wondered about the wisdom of the strategy. After all, whatever its other virtues, the civil justice system has a poor record as a "name clearing" mechanism.
Just ask the Texas cattlemen who sued Oprah Winfrey over her statements about beef (that unquestionably was beef) and lost. Of course, they didn't just lose; they lost to one of the most popular personalities in America .... who had her own television talk show. It is hard to believe that, in retrospect, they still think this was a good idea.
But matters are even more complicated for Taco Bell. Its problem is being driven by social media, which moves at the speed of light. Litigation, which moves at the pace of your average glacier, will never catch up.
Over many years in practice I encountered numerous businesses and individuals who were excited about being sued because of the opportunity for "vindication" it afforded. It rarely played out that way. In general, they would have done better to take a deep breath and recall the words of the distinguished jurist Learned Hand: "As a litigant, I should dread a lawsuit beyond almost anything short of sickness and death."