Attorney Drops Claim in McDonald’s Lawsuit
Attorney Samuel Hirsh yesterday dropped a claim in a federal lawsuit against fast food chain McDonald's that seeks to hold the company responsible for obesity-related health problems in children, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal reports. Hirsh voluntarily dropped a claim that McDonald's products are "unhealthier than customers would suspect" and "instead argued that the company engages in deceptive advertising practices about the nutritional value of its products," in violation of the New York consumer protection act, Dow Jones/Journal reports (Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, 6/26). Hirsh last November filed the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, on behalf of two New York City teenage girls who allegedly have experienced health problems, such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension, as a result of McDonald's products. In January, U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet dismissed the lawsuit because he said the plaintiffs presented no evidence that McDonald's had misled consumers about the nutritional content of the company's products. However, Sweet allowed the plaintiffs to amend and refile the lawsuit (California Healthline, 1/23). McDonald's yesterday asked Sweet to dismiss the lawsuit (Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, 6/26). McDonald's attorney Brad Lerman said that a "major problem with the case is that the plaintiffs did not specify what ads they had seen and could not link the advertising to any injuries," Reuters/Washington Times reports (Reuters/Washington Times, 6/26). The plaintiffs "cannot be injured by a deceptive act or practice that they have never seen," Lerman said (Lehmann, New York Post, 6/26). Hirsh said that although the children may not have viewed the ads, their parents had viewed them (Reuters/Washington Times, 6/26). NBC's "Nightly News" yesterday reported on the McDonald's lawsuit and the debate over the alleged link between fast food and obesity. The segment includes comments from public interest attorney John Banzhaf, Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.) and Marion Nestle, chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University (Taibbi, "Nightly News," NBC, 6/25). The full transcript of the segment is available online. The full segment is available online in Windows Media.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.