ATRA Has Beef with McDonald’s Lawsuit for Obese American Children

January 26, 2005

An appeals court’s reinstatement Tuesday of a junk lawsuit by obese American children against McDonald’s reinforces the need for civil justice reform, according to the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA).

“This is a junk lawsuit with absolutely no merit,” said ATRA President Sherman Joyce. “That this frivolous suit was filed in the first place reveals just how out-of-control personal injury lawyers are, and reinforces the need to reform our civil justice system.”

Litigation targeting restaurants and food makers is reportedly the latest attempt by personal injury lawyers to foster “regulation through litigation” by using courts as a means of achieving public policy and regulatory objectives. “Specious litigation of this type is an effort to achieve public policy through the courts by making an end-run around legislators and regulators,” Joyce concluded.

Many personal injury lawyers and law professors have reportedly begun to strategically apply to the food industry the legal theories developed in state suits against the tobacco industry. Similar litigation has been brought against firearm manufacturers, HMOs and lead paint makers.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act (HR 339) last spring by a bipartisan vote of 276-139.

“It’s time for Congress to pass this legislation that recognizes that frivolous obesity-related lawsuits will result in costly litigation that will ultimately regulate an entire industry,” Joyce concluded.

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