A Muslim man in Michigan has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Little Caesars because, the man says, he received and consumed pizza laced with pork pepperoni.
Mohamad Bazzi is the plaintiff in the mega-dollar lawsuit, reports The Detroit Free Press.
Bazzi, 32, claims that he specifically ordered halal pepperoni pizza on two separate occasions from a Little Caesars in Dearborn but received delicious pork pepperoni instead.
Both pizza boxes he received were labeled “halal,” according to the lawsuit.
The Quran, the main religious text of Islam, prohibits Muslims from eating pork. (“Halal” means meat meeting Islamic dietary requirements.)
According to Bazzi’s attorney, Majed Moughni, the second time Bazzi received pork pepperoni was on Wednesday of this week — just before the start of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting (which begins this weekend).
The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, claims that the first incident occurred back on March 20. Bazzi and his wife were in their home enjoying a Little Caesars pizza they’d picked up earlier. The couple was halfway finished with the pizza, the suit claims, when they suddenly realized they were eating pork pepperoni.
Bazzi’s wife says she knew the pepperoni was pork because she is a convert to Islam who grew up Catholic. Bazzi also has experience with pizza ingredients, he says, because he once worked at a pizza joint.
Bazzi and his unnamed wife — the converted Catholic — “became sick to their stomach” when they realized they were eating pork, the $100 million lawsuit says.
They were deeply troubled — so troubled they filed a police report after first waiting three days.
After Bazzi ordered the second halal pepperoni pizza from the Dearborn Little Caesars and allegedly received more pork pepperoni, he went back to the restaurant and spoke to the manager. He says he recorded the conversation.
According to Moughni, who is Bazzi’s lawyer, the Little Caesars manager has claimed that Bazzi had asked for a Hot-n-Ready pepperoni pizza with a halal sticker. This claim is categorically false, Moughni says. No Hot-n-Ready pepperoni pizza was ordered.
Eating pork is “one of the worst sins you can do,” Moughni told the Free Press.
“They have no regard for people’s religious beliefs,” the lawyer also said, according to The Detroit News. “This is a violation of the Muslim faith. You can’t be handing out pork, mislabeling it as halal and get away with it. This isn’t how America operates. A billion dollar corporation can’t get away with it.”
“These people were unknowingly assaulted,” Moughni told The Detroit News. “None of these employees seem to care.”
Moughni is no stranger to religion-related controversy. Around Easter 2014, a Dearborn, Michigan attorney named Majed Moughni complained about flyers handed out at public schools advertising an “Eggstravaganza!” Easter egg hunt to be held at a Presbyterian church. Several local Muslim leaders and the pastor at the church denounced Moughni’s complaint about the Easter egg hunt. They also urged area Muslims to come to the “Eggstravaganza!” and have their children participate. (RELATED: AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL: Muslims, Presbyterians Amicably Resolve Easter Egg Hunt Crisis)
A spokeswoman for Little Caesars, Jill Proctor, emphasized that the pizza chain — America’s third-largest — has no animus toward Muslims or, in fact, adherents of any religion or creed.
“Little Caesars cherishes our customers from all religions and cultures, and the communities we serve are very important to us,” Proctor said in a statement obtained by both local newspapers.
Moughni says he believes other Muslims have unwittingly eaten pork pepperoni from Little Caesars which they believed to be halal.
The attorney says he hopes to turn the lawsuit into a class action.
The four counts of the lawsuit are fraud, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.
The defendants named in the lawsuit are Little Caesars as a corporation and also the employees of the Little Caesars location in Dearborn.
In 2011, McDonald’s settled a lawsuit for $700,000 after plaintiffs showed that chicken claimed to be halal was not, in fact, halal. The McDonald’s serving that chicken was in the Detroit area.