Investing 16-12-2023 02:07 8 Views

MrBeast’s food delivery service partner denies ‘disparaging’ allegations in new legal filing

Virtual Dining Concepts, a brand that partnered with YouTube star MrBeast in 2020, is continuing to push back against claims he made in a July lawsuit about their burger venture, according to a new legal filing. 

The Florida-based “virtual dining” brand partnered with MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, to sell branded burger-and-fries combos through restaurants and commercial kitchens across the nation. The delivery-only fast-food provider enabled customers to order MrBeast-branded meals from nearby restaurants via food delivery apps or its website.

But in July, Donaldson, who has 218 million subscribers on YouTube, filed a lawsuit in New York federal court against the company alleging that it damaged his reputation by serving customers “low quality” and, occasionally, “inedible” food.

A week later, VDC and its subsidiary, Celebrity Virtual Dining, LLC, asserted in its own lawsuit — filed in New York state court — that Donaldson and his company, Beast Investments, failed to keep contractual obligations and sued over intentional tortious interference. Donaldson then dropped his federal lawsuit and refiled in state court.

In a new filing Monday, VDC responded to Donaldson’s lawsuit with an amended answer and counterclaims. It asked that the court dismiss Donaldson’s claims, grant damages to VDC and CVD, and grant the company further relief as the court deems fit. 

“Among other claims, the filing seeks to recover losses plus interest for breaches of contract and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” a spokesperson for VDC wrote in a statement, “as well as an injunction precluding Donaldson from further disparaging MrBeast Burger and VDC.”

An attorney for Donaldson declined to comment on Tuesday. 

The legal battle is unfolding as ghost kitchens — online food service businesses that offer exclusively delivery and pickup — have risen in popularity in recent years. VDC’s other ventures, from “Mariah’s Cookies” with Mariah Carey to “Buddy V’s Cake Slice” with “Cake Boss” reality star Buddy Valastro, have built a business enmeshing this pandemic-era boom in food delivery with growing celebrity and influencer fan culture.

VDC’s lawsuit and counterclaim both state that Donaldson leveraged his massive social media presence to make “disparaging comments” about the company. 

In his suit, Donaldson, famous for his expensive stunts and viral charity projects, cited social media posts in which customers called the burgers “disgusting,” “revolting” and “inedible.”

VDC stated in Monday’s filing that it could not verify the accuracy of the “thousands of negative reviews, articles, and comments” from customers who expressed disappointment in MrBeast Burger that were cited by Donaldson. 

It also addressed each of the specific claims made by Donaldson in his lawsuit. The company denied the majority of his accusations — including that the company marketed his name and image online without permission, registered MrBeast-related trademarks without his consent, and that Donaldson has “not received a dime” from the venture despite MrBeast Burger having generated “millions of dollars.”

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