Wrench LLC v. Taco Bell Corp.
In what resulted in reportedly the largest verdict in Federal District Court in Western Michigan, a jury awarded $30.1 million to plaintiffs in a breach of contract case involving the Taco Bell Chihuahua character. Thomas Rinks and Joseph Shields, creators of the talking Chihuahua and owners of the marketing company Wrench LLC, initiated litigation when the defendant, Taco Bell, allegedly breached its contract and used the dog in its advertising campaign from 1997 to 2000 without paying plaintiffs and without permission. Taco Bell claimed that its advertising firm at the time, TBWA\Chiat\Day, had created the character.
Analysis Group was retained by Warner, Norcross & Judd, counsel for Wrench, to evaluate and determine appropriate damages, assuming a finding of liability. Managing Principal John Jarosz testified in the matter and worked closely with Managing Principal Christopher Borek. Mr. Jarosz's trial testimony primarily focused on the losses incurred by Wrench due to Taco Bell's failure to pay fees associated with its Chihuahua advertising expenditures, internal and external licenses of the character, and its sales of plush Chihuahua toys. After two days of deliberation, the jury found in favor of plaintiffs, adopting Analysis Group's calculation of $30.1 million in damages.