Thursday, October 20, 2005

A small victory for common sense

The House passed the Cheeseburger Bill today. The bill, which would prevent lawsuits against fast food restaurants from obese people who claim the food made them fat, passed by a vote of 306-120.

Now, I say this is a victory for common sense. It doesn't really make any sense for a person to say a restaurant made them fat. They had to go to the restaurant, buy the food (several thousand times), and eat it - not one of those were forced by the restaurant. Perhaps they appealed to your sense of taste, but a restaurant is not liable for your willpower.

I don't think this law was necessary, though. I think it was successful lobbying by the food service people to save money on litigation, but I don't think a ban on fast food lawsuits is really necessary. I think any suit that would be filed that said "They made me eat that" would lose in summary judgment if not by straight jury. What the lobby was afraid of was a sympathetic jury, and the lawmakers wanted to show that they're doing something significant. What better way to be significant than to show you're tough on frivolous lawsuits - I mean, other than obeying the laws, not pandering to the fringe, not overspending the budget, ensuring that all people are properly represented, talking to your constituents, and working on front line issues...

I do wonder what this will mean for the lawsuits against the tobacco companies who will say "Hey, we didn't put the cigarettes in those people's mouths, how are we any different than the fast food people?"


Weary Hag said...

I agree that perhaps this was unnecessary.
Anyone who has endured a fender bender shouldn't be able to sue the auto manufacturer because "hey, if not for them, I wouldn't have been driving that car" etc ... equally as pathetiic.
Pardon me for putting it quite this way, but I truly feel that the whole "lawsuit industry" has gotten wayyyy out of control in this country.

People don't see injury as unfortunate anymore. The first thought they tend to think is "yay I've just won the lottery!"
Really kind of sick.

I'm not suggesting that there are no valid suits of this nature. I just think the guidelines for creating such suits should be far more stringent.

Steve said...

I suggest that the PI lawsuit industry is about half as bad as legislation wants you to think (remember, the big lobbyists are for the industries being sued, not the ones being injured) and about twice (or more) as bad as it needs to be.

Tort reform doesn't really do a whole lot other than give the legislators something they can tout on their next campaign.