Assembly Rejects Bill That Would Have Limited Obesity-Related Lawsuits Against the Food Industry
The Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday voted 4-3 to reject a bill (AB 173) sponsored by Assembly member Guy Houston (R-Livermore) that would have prevented consumers who claim that food products contributed to obesity-related health problems from filing lawsuits against restaurants, food manufacturers and food distributors, the Stockton Record reports (Shaw, Stockton Record, 4/6).
Under the bill, restaurants and food manufacturers would have had "limited immunity" to lawsuits alleging weight gain, obesity, health problems related to weight gain or obesity, or other injuries caused by or likely to result from the food's consumption over an extended period of time (California Healthline, 3/6).
San Francisco attorney Stephen Joseph, who has filed a lawsuit against McDonald's over the cooking oil it used, suggested that the legislation would have granted the food industry immunity from lawsuits related to the healthiness of products and claims of false advertising about food contents.
Houston said that excluding such claims was not the intent of the bill. He said he will revise the bill to limit it to obesity claims, adding that he would try to finish the bill before a hearing scheduled for later this month.
Opponents have expressed concerns about limiting lawsuits against products currently considered safe, according to Committee Chair Dave Jones (D-Sacramento). He said, "Not too long ago, cigarettes were viewed as a safe product. Time has proven that to be sadly, sadly wrong" (Stockton Record, 4/6).