DEARBORN, MICH. - A Muslim man is suing Little Caesars for $100 million after he says he was served and then accidentally ate pepperoni made with pork, a food prohibited by Islamic law.
The complaint says Mohamad Bazzi of Dearborn ordered halal pizza twice from the shop on Schaefer in Dearborn. The boxes were labeled "halal," but the pies inside were topped with regular pepperoni.
Majed Moughni, Bazzi's attorney, said he rushed to file the lawsuit Thursday, the eve of Ramadan, so no other Muslims would accidentally eat pork from the pizza shop during the holiday.
"It's really upsetting," Moughni said. "My clients want the public to know. Especially during Ramadan, it would be a travesty if Muslims ... in Dearborn bought pizza from Little Caesars and discovered they were eating pork."
He added that for a Muslim, consuming pork is "one of the worst sins you can do."
A spokeswoman for Little Caesars did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, says the first incident happened March 20. Bazzi and his wife were midway through eating a pizza he had brought home from the shop when they realized it had pork pepperoni.
Bazzi knew it was pork because he used to work in a pizza place and knows the different types of pepperoni, Moughni said. He also said Bazzi's wife could tell because she is a Catholic convert to Islam who grew up eating pork.
They "became sick to their stomach," according to the lawsuit. Three days later, they filed a police report.
The second incident happened May 24, the day before the lawsuit was filed.
When Bazzi confronted the shop manager, according to the lawsuit, she told him at one point that Bazzi had asked an employee to put a halal sticker on the pizza box, a claim Moughni disputes. Bazzi secretly recorded the conversation.
Halal is the Muslim equivalent of Judaism's kosher and requires that meat be prepared according to Islamic guidelines, such as reciting a prayer while the animal is cut.
"There's different schools of Islamic law that allows for the eating of chicken and beef, but there is no such thing as halal pork. The pork itself is forbidden," Moughni said.
The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and fraud. The case is against Little Caesars Pizza, Little Caesars Enterprises and the employees of the shop.
Moughni is seeking class-action status for the case.
The issue of non-halal food labeled as such has landed in court before. In 2011, McDonald's was sued over claims that the fast-food restaurant was selling non-halal chicken it claimed was halal.
In some cases, employees at the Ford Road location in Dearborn were mistakenly giving non-halal products to customers who asked for halal ones.
The case was settled for $700,000. However, some Muslims, including a group led by Moughni, said the settlement money should have gone to the Muslims affected, not to organizations that were based in Detroit or not affiliated with Islam.
A judge at one point issued an injunction ordering Moughni not to talk about the settlement, but it was eventually lifted.