House Votes to Ban Fast Food Lawsuits

The House overwhelmingly passed a bill shielding the fast food industry from lawsuits from obese people blaming them.

House Votes to Ban Obesity Blame Lawsuits (AP)

The Republican-controlled House voted Wednesday to shield fast-food chains from lawsuits that blame them for making people fat. Nicknamed the “cheeseburger bill,” the measure stems from lawsuits accusing McDonald’s of causing obesity in tens of thousands of children. The food industry has asked Congress and state legislatures to protect it from liability, and so far, 21 states have agreed.

“You cannot litigate personal choices and lifestyles,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said potential costs from the lawsuits threaten the food industry and its 12 million employees and raise food prices for consumers. “These suits would be laughable if they were not so harmful,” Sensenbrenner said.

The measure, which won approval on a 306-120 vote, would prevent class action lawsuits blaming restaurants and food companies for weight gain or obesity. The House passed a similar bill last year, but the Senate ran out of time to act.

It’s regretable that such legislation is even necessary. Given that the cigarette, alcohol, and gun industries have all been successfully sued for the actions of individuals outside the industry, though, it was indeed necessary.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DL says:

    Coming from a group composed mostly of lawyers, this must be painful. Give them credit for this much.

    I was going to wisecrack something about Teddy Kennedy throwing his weight behind this bill, but I wont!

    Or, were all the previous lawsuits super-sized?

  2. McGehee says:

    I guess they decided you couldn’t do a class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s…

  3. John Burgess says:

    “You cannot litigate personal choices and lifestyles,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich.

    Somehow, I don’t think this message has gotten through to our illustrious Congress…

  4. Herb says:

    The sheister lawyers will “Have a Cow” if this goes through.