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Such a big lawsuit for such a tiny dog

Before Doug Emhoff was known as ‘Kamala’s husband,’ he was known as one of the lawyers in the Taco Bell Chihuahua lawsuit that lasted ten years. Such a big lawsuit for such a little dog!

Doug And Kamala

The Emhoff-Harris household must be riding high after their big win this past week and getting ready for their responsibilities as Vice President elect and second gentleman. Anyone who was watching Harris carefully during campaign events would be able to tell how special their relationship is just by the way her smile would widen when she talked about her husband, Doug. The couple was set up on a blind date by a mutual friend, PR professional Chrisette Hudlin, in 2013. At the time, Doug Emhoff was a divorced dad of two, working as an entertainment litigator. Meanwhile, Kamala Harris was still serving as California Attorney General. The two hit it off and were married in 2014. Harris was in her late 40’s when they got married; an inspiring love story for anyone who has struggled to meet society’s expectation of love’s timeline. Emhoff has been a tremendous source of support for Harris during the campaign, and shows his affection openly on social media. Like any supportive and accommodating spouse, he took a leave of absence from his job at DLA Piper law firm so as to avoid any potential conflict of interest during the campaign, and focused his attention on supporting his wife.

The Taco Bell Chihuahua Case

But what about this Taco Bell case? Right. Back in 1998, two men, Joseph Shields and Thomas Rinks, sued Taco Bell, claiming that they were the brains behind the Chihuahua character from the video campaigns, and had not been compensated. Rinks and Shields had developed the character for “Psycho Chihuahua” with Taco Bell starting in 1996. The men sued Taco Bell, but when the fast food chain was found guilty in court, they tried to frame the liability on their advertising agency, TBWA.  

Taco Bell had hired a new ad agency, TBWA, who made their own ad campaign about a chihuahua in 1998. TBWA created the ad campaigns with the dog saying the iconic “yo quiero Taco Bell” motto. The ad quickly blew up and soon Taco Bell began selling chihuahua stuffed animals that barked “yo quiero Taco Bell.” Unfortunately the campaign did little to boost Taco Bell sales, so they stopped airing the campaign in 2000, dropping TBWA the same year. 

Taco Bell was ordered to pay Shields and Rinks $30 million in damages, plus an additional $12 million in interest. It was then that the fast food chain tried to pin the blame on their old ad agency, filing a lawsuit against TBWA. Cue Doug Emhoff! Emhoff represented the advertising agency in the case between TBWA and Taco Bell. 

 The whole legal battle dragged on for ten years, before the appeals court solely found Taco Bell to be guilty in 2009, and requiring them to pay Shields and Rinks $42 million in damages. 


This lawsuit was quite a drawn out ordeal and to think, Emhoff was there defending away! People’s minds are a little blown away after finding out that their new second gentlemen was involved in a celebrity lawsuit.

When Emhoff is not being recognized as ‘Kamala’s husband,’ (or for the fact that he is Jewish, see below) he is now becoming known for his work as one of the lawyers from the Taco Bell Chihuahua case. Is that a good or bad reputation to have?? 

Many still think fondly of the Taco Bell Chihuahua and miss it.

It’s also really sad to think about how many people alive right now will never know the great absurdity that was the Taco Bell Chihuahua.

But the real question everyone wants to know, is that dog still alive today??

Where Are They Now?

As of 2018, Taco Bell has over 2 billion customers each year, with a little over 7,000 restaurants across the country. Since the infamous Chihuahua, Taco Bell has experimented with various marketing and advertising campaigns. They’ve done everything from a National Taco Day to wild new menu items. In January 2019, the company reported that it had nearly doubled their television advertising spending to a whopping $64 million. Perhaps they’ll come up with a new animal to be their mascot or maybe the Chihuahua will make a reprise (legally this time).

And as you’re already well aware, Doug Emhoff is happily married to Vice President elect Kamala Harris. But now you know a little bit about his career before he was known as ‘Kamala’s husband.’

“Yo quiero Taco Bell” might always ring in our minds when we suddenly crave a taco for those of us who remember the famous little dog. Do you remember the Taco Bell Chihuahua and those commercials from the late 90’s/early 2000 era? Or are you too young to remember them?