A Burger King Whopper deal.

Free fast food for life sounds great, right? Well, one Oregon man is claiming that his local Burger King didn’t live up to that promise. As per Aimee Green of The Oregonian, 50-year-old Portland-area resident Curtis Brooner has filed a lawsuit seeking $9,026, the estimated cost of a Whopper meal a week for the next 22 years. Brooner is doing that after he got stuck in a Burger King restroom for an hour, was apparently verbally promised free food for life, ate there for free for the next 13 days, and then was told district management had cancelled that offer:

According to Brooner and his lawsuit:

Brooner had just finished a meal and stepped into the single-user restroom. When he tried to leave, the lock on the door jammed. After several minutes of trying to get the door to open, he called the phone number on his receipt. Several employees responded, ultimately handing him a hard plastic-edged card and later a fly-swatter and instructions to squeeze it through the crack between the door and the door frame to move the locking mechanism.

…Brooner was too shaken to immediately leave the restaurant — and that’s when employees gave him a bandage and some ointment for his cut and a manager apologized and offered him a verbal promise that he could always eat there for free, Brooner said.

“She said, ‘Yeah, man. We understand it’s a terrible situation and we want to make it up to you,” he recounted.

Even before the promise, Brooner said, he frequented Burger King nearly every day because he enjoys the food and it’s just one freeway stop from his work in Troutdale. He said after the free-meal promise, he ate there for free every day for the next 13 days, with the exception of Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. Twice, he ate breakfast and dinner there on the same day, he said.

But when he went in on Dec. 28, Brooner said, he was told “district management” had yanked the free-meal pledge.

On one hand, some sympathy for Brooner is understandable; he wound up stuck in that washroom for over an hour on Dec. 15 before a locksmith was finally able to free him. And sure, if a restaurant offers you free food and then pulls that back, that’s not great. But on the other hand, does having an hour of your time wasted really mean you should be able to get free food for life, especially if you’re planning to take advantage of that every day (and twice a day some days)? It’s interesting that his lawsuit is for a sum based on a Whopper meal a week, far less than the amount he was actually consuming.

And, on an unrelated note, The Oregonian‘s piece mentions that Brooner “was convicted in 1994 of first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree sexual penetration for crimes committed in 1992 in Multnomah County. He was sentenced to about 6 ½ years in prison and a requirement to register as a sex offender, which he says is for life.” While Brooner says those charges are old and that he’s been a model citizen since, that still doesn’t really make him look great.

At any rate, we’ll see how Brooner’s lawsuit goes and what’s eventually decided there. But it’s certainly not all that typical for someone to get stuck in the washroom at a Burger King, get promised free food for life, and then have that taken away by “district management” after he chooses to use that by eating there every day. This is definitely an unusual story, and it will be interesting to see how it ends.

[The Oregonian]


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

7 thoughts on “Oregon man has free Burger King for life (given after he got stuck in a restroom) revoked after eating there on 13 of 15 days, sues

  1. On the face of it this could be an enforceable contract, the statute of frauds does not apply because it is possible that the performance of burger king could be completed in less than a year (if he died within a year for example). Additionally, the plaintiff could argue that the contract is supported by mutual consideration since it could be seen that what the plaintiff was offering was a promise not to sue for getting stuck in the bathroom. The plaintiff’s real problem is that he could not prove the 22 years of free burger king to a reasonable degree of certainty so I hope is lawyer asked for specific performance in the alternative.

    1. If they bought the implied indemnification on his side of the deal making it a contract, what about apparent authority. Stretches credulity that a ‘reasonable person’ would believe that a floor manager at a fast food restaurant has the ability to enter into settlement agreements on behalf of owner or corporate..

      Probably right re statute of frauds, although a verbal lifetime offer of employment was found in illinois to be invalid under their statute, so I suppose it would depend on Oregon’s past case law on the matter which I am far too lazy to look into.

      Probably telling that his calculations for the lifetime value conveniently fell just under the small claims cap.

      1. I disagree with your agency analysis. Burger King is a franchise company, he doesn’t need authority from corporate hq just from the owner of the local franchise. I think even if he didn’t have actual authority (I would think he did as a manager) a reasonable person would think that manager had the authority to give free food to avoid a lawsuit and this belief could be traced back to a manifestation of the franchise owner (putting them in charge). I know its obviously a finding of fact not law, but wouldn’t you think the manager of a restaurant had authority to give you free food if you had a bad experience?

        1. I would think a shift manager could comp me a meal, I would not believe he would have the authority to enter into what is essentially an indemnification agreement on behalf of the franchise owner.

          1. “Indemnification agreement” is a pretty strong word for what is happening here. I think a reasonable person eating at burger king would probably just think they got hurt and the guy in charge probably had the authority to give me a bunch of food to make up for it. Regardless at the very least its going to a finding of fact for the jury. I bet I could convince them.

          2. The fact that the damages were just under the threshold of small claims makes me think the plaintiff’s attorney knows there isn’t much there and is just going for a settlement. But then again we are all just pissing in the wind here since none of us knows the actual thing and I’m not going to pay money to get the complaint since it isn’t viewable on any service i have 🙂

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