AIA Supports Curbs on Food Lawsuits

July 23, 2003

The American Insurance Association (AIA) praised the “Commonsense Consumption Act” (S. 1428), introduced recently by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), as a much-needed proposal to help reform America’s litigation system.

The legislation would bar lawsuits against food manufacturers and sellers for claims of injury resulting from a person’s weight gain, obesity or health condition related to weight gain or obesity.

“Senator McConnell’s reform legislation will thwart frivolous lawsuits and help keep the skyrocketing costs of litigation in check,” said Melissa Shelk, AIA vice president, federal affairs. “Federal, state and local governments already have extensive regulations in place to govern the food industry. The growing tide of absurd lawsuits over food does nothing to help enforce those regulations and only contributes to the staggering costs of our legal system.”

Shelk added that AIA also supports the “Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act” (H.R. 339), authored by Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL), which is similar to the McConnell bill. “These two proposals will help consumers by reducing the number of lawsuits that benefit few people beyond a handful of personal injury lawyers, and by reigning in overall litigation costs,” Shelk said.

The litigation system in the United States reportedly costs citizens an annual average $721, according to a 2002 study by Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, which periodically reviews tort system costs. In 1950, U.S. citizens paid an inflation-adjusted average of $87 in tort costs, the firm said.

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