Fast Food

Dunkin' Donuts franchises settle 'butter' lawsuit with Massachusetts man

Jan Polanik was sick of Dunkin' Donuts putting butter substitutes on his bagels.

Jan Polanik was sick of Dunkin' Donuts putting butter substitutes on his bagels.  (Reuters)

A Dunkin’ Donuts customer has settled his lawsuits with a few franchise owners over their use of butter substitutes in place of actual butter.

Jan Polanik, who lives near Worcester, Mass., brought the suits against the Dunkin’ Donuts owners after he learned they were serving him a “margarine or butter substitute” on his bagels — even when he specifically requested the real thing, reports The Boston Globe.

“The main point of the lawsuit is to stop the practice of representing one thing and selling a different thing,” Polanik’s lawyer, Thomas Shapiro, told the Globe.

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Shapiro also acknowledged that Polanik’s butter issue was “a minor thing” and even admitted to waffling over whether to file a lawsuit, but he said he ultimately chose to move forward for the sake of consumers.

“If somebody goes in and makes a point to order butter for the bagel … they don’t want margarine or some other kind of chemical substitute,” Shapiro said.

The Boston Globe reports that Polanik’s lawsuits were filed against two different companies who operate over 20 franchises in Mass. Each lawsuit was also looking to achieve class-action status in order to represent any Dunkin’ customers who felt cheated upon receiving butter substitutes.

Michael Marino, a lawyer for one of the franchise groups, confirmed that his clients have reached a settlement with Polanik, although he declined to discuss the terms of the agreement.

However, Marino did confirm that 17 of the franchises he represents would be instituting “operational changes” concerning their butter policy.

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A representative for the second group of franchisees declined to comment to The Globe.

The paper also points out that, in 2013, a separate Worcester resident questioned the ethics of serving butter substitutes without making it known to the consumer.

In that particular case, a representative for the company responded by saying that the stores can’t safely store butter at spreadable temperatures, which is why they use substitutes. She also claimed that stores are instructed to provide packets of whipped butter for those who request it.