Objection filed against non-halal settlement

By Bob Oliver
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — A local attorney filed an objection Friday with the Wayne County Circuit Court against the nearly $700,000 settlement over a McDonald’s franchisee that allegedly sold foods falsely advertised as halal in 2011.

Dearborn based Majed Moughni described the proposed settlement as “unfair, unreasonable, and inadequate.”

Moughni has been vocal against the settlement since an agreement was made between the Dearborn McDonald’s restaurant at 13158 Ford Road and its management company, Finley’s Management Co., and Dearborn Heights resident Ahmed Ahmed and community organizations on Jan. 18 about whether Ahmed was served non-halal, or ritually fit, food advertised as halal at the restaurant.

Beginning on his Facebook page, Dearborn Area Community Members, Moughni voiced his disapproval of the settlement and the proposed use of the money. In early February, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen MacDonald ordered all case-related material pulled from the site and placed a preliminary injunction against him for speaking out about the lawsuit.

Early last month the order was lifted and Moughni was allowed to begin posting his opinions again on the web. On March 16, a call for a boycott of the McDonald’s in question was placed on the Facebook page and the status received over 15,000 views, 500 “likes” and drew many comments from area residents.

Moughni also posted a sample form for the objection letter and urged people who had possibly eaten non-halal food at the restaurant to speak up and file the paperwork with the circuit court before the April 1 mail-in or April 8 hand-in deadline.

On March 28, Moughni filed his own objection to the court.

The objection is leveled at how the nearly $700,000 will be divided up. According to case reports at www.citizens.org, about $20,000 is expected to go to Ahmed, $275,000 to the Health Unit on Davison Avenue clinic in Detroit, about $150,000 to the Arab American National Museum and roughly $230,000 to attorneys.

The amount of money that is to be given to HUDA and AANM is something that Moughni is upset with.

“The (HUDA) center is located miles away from the place where the injury took place,” Moughni said. “Giving the money to the HUDA Medical Center does not appear to target the settlement class, the majority of whom live in Dearborn/Dearborn Heights. Further, giving money to a museum that has nothing to do with ‘halal’ is wrong.”

The original settlement stated that the money was to be given to HUDA and the AANM because of their value to the area. HUDA offers medical, dental and optical treatments for free three days a week to a diverse patient base, including some from Muslim communities.

The money is to be used to allow the clinic to open for a fourth day, help complete a build-on to the facility, and provide a free health fair in Flint and Toledo.

The AANM would use the money to provide K-12 students from the community with admission to the museum, guided tours, on-site programming and writing workshops and awards for contests.

Moughni believes that the money should be used in other ways.

“First and foremost, the money should go to class (action suit) members,” Moughni wrote in his objection. “If that is not possible, it should go to the ‘next best’ charities that will benefit class members.”

The final settlement is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 17 in circuit court.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)