Fast Food Obesity Lawsuit Threatens Consumers, Rule of Law

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Washington, D.C., January 26, 2004—Yesterday’s reinstatement of the obesity liability lawsuit against McDonald’s resurrects another trial lawyer campaign that undermines personal responsibility and jeopardizes consumer choice, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“If obesity lawsuits succeed, they will turn all Americans into ‘victims,’ incapable of bearing responsibility for personal choices,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman.

“Such lawsuits may benefit trial lawyers, but they’ll hurt consumers on limited budgets who will be forced to pay higher food prices,” said Kazman.

“Health control activists hope that obesity lawsuits will be a replay of the tobacco wars,” Kazman continued. “Unfortunately, the tobacco campaign failed to produce big health gains, but it did enrich trial lawyers and harm our democratic system,” said Kazman.

The McDonald’s lawsuit, reinstated Tuesday by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, is part of a larger campaign to make food and restaurant companies responsible for the eating habits of the public.

The Second Circuit ruling that reverses a trial judge dismissal of the case is couched in technical legal terms, but its ultimate effect may be to open up McDonald’s and other companies to a form of legalized extortion, pressuring food companies to settle lawsuits and pass higher costs on to consumers.