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Fast Food Obesity Lawsuits

House Fights "Ronald McDonald Made Me Do It" Lawsuits- March 10, 2004



Congressman Gary G. Miller

42nd District, California


House Fights “Ronald McDonald Made Me Do It” Lawsuits

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation that would block frivolous lawsuits that accuse fast-food chains and other segments of the food industry of causing obesity, even if their products meet legal and sanitary standards. Congressman Miller believes suing ice cream companies and fast-food restaurants would not make anybody thin, but would merely make trial attorneys' bank accounts fatter. In recent years, the McDonald’s Corporation, Nabisco and other food sellers have spent millions of dollars fighting off these types of lawsuits.


Attack on the Food Service Industry Is an Attack on Jobs


•  The food service industry employs approximately 12 million people, making it the nation’s largest private sector employer.

•  The food industry has recently been attacked by lawsuits alleging it should pay monetary damages to those who, of their own accord, consume too much of their product.


Trial Lawyers Prepare to Line Their Pockets


•  Personal injury attorney and obesity-lawsuit litigator John Banzhaf said recently, “You may not like it ... but we’ll find a judge. And then we’ll find a jury” that will find restaurants liable for their customers’ overeating ( Source: MSNBC, “Abrams Report,” January 23, 2003 ).

•  The same lawyers have recently added ice cream manufacturers to a target list that just keeps growing.

•  The Public Health Advocacy Institute gathered personal injury lawyers from across the country and hosted a conference it says will “encourage and support litigation against the food industry.”


A Solution to Promote Personal Responsibility


•  The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act (H.R. 339) would generally prohibit obesity or weight gain-related claims against the food industry.

•  It would, however, allow obesity-related claims to go forward in several circumstances, including cases in which a state or federal law was broken and as a result a person gained weight.

•  For example, an obesity-related claim could go forward if a company, in violation of a labeling law, labels a food as containing “zero calories” when in fact it has thousands of calories, thereby causing someone to eat too much of it and gain weight.

•  Also, because H.R. 339 only applies to claims based on “weight gain” or “obesity,” lawsuits could go forward under the bill if, for example, someone gets sick from a tainted hamburger.

This information came from a
US House online article.

*** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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