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Michigan man files lawsuit over high price of movie popcorn

March 05, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • No amount of butter will make high-priced movie theater popcorn slide down more easily for a Michigan man who decided to sue.
No amount of butter will make high-priced movie theater popcorn slide down… (Lori Shepler / Los Angeles…)

A Michigan man says the price of movie theater popcorn is ridiculously high. Same goes for the sodas and candies sold by movie concessionaires. So Joshua Thompson is taking the issue to a higher authority: He's filed a class-action lawsuit to end what he says is price gouging.

Thompson, an avid moviegoer from Livonia, Mich., used to bypass the high prices charged for theater popcorn, soda and candy by bringing in his own treats, said his attorney, Kerry Morgan. But Thompson arrived at his local theater outside Detroit recently to find a new sign telling customers they were no longer allowed to bring in their own goodies.

"He called me and said, 'Can they do that?' " Morgan told The Times. The attorney said his first reaction was, "Sure, they can do that, it's private property." But then he began doing a little legal research and came across the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, a statute designed to prevent price gouging.

And a lawsuit was born.

The suit, which seeks refunds in a class action on behalf of moviegoers who were overcharged, was filed last week in Wayne County Circuit Court against AMC Theatres.

A spokesman for AMC told The Times that he could not comment on pending litigation.

While the lawsuit addresses alleged price gouging only in Michigan, you can bet that it will probably  trigger copycat lawsuits elsewhere if successful. But don't hold your breath. Some legal experts told the Detroit Free Press that businesses that are already regulated, like movie theaters, are exempt form the state's price-gouging statute.

But Morgan says he's not so sure.

"We're going to test the legal boundaries of that state law," he said.

Morgan said consumers were willing to pay a fair premium for movie theater goodies. But they don't enjoy being charged three or four times the price of a box of Goobers.

"Consumers by and large feel very strongly about this," Morgan said.

As for Thompson, himself, Morgan says he prefers to stay out of the public eye and does not want to be interviewed by the media.

But Morgan did offer up this tidbit about Thompson, which might explain why the plaintiff is paying careful attention to what flies out of his wallet: Thompson is newly engaged and getting married in just a few months.

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