Bill Would Extend Protections Against Some Obesity Lawsuits to Food Companies
Assembly member Guy Houston (R-Livermore) has introduced a bill (AB 173) that would exempt food sellers and manufacturers from some personal injury lawsuits alleging that the companies' products cause obesity, the Oakland Tribune reports.
Under the bill, restaurants and food manufacturers would have "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, the Tribune reports.
Houston Chief of Staff Jason Bryant said, "You should not eat mass quantities of foods that are very high in trans fat -- it could have long-term health effects -- but we are saying people should not be allowed to sue manufacturers or distributors of food that make you gain weight over time."
Fourteen states have enacted laws protecting food sellers and manufacturers from such lawsuits. Houston's bill is scheduled for an Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing March 15 (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 3/7).
Although Houston "wisely" introduced the legislation, a Contra Costa Times editorial states that Houston "will find this endeavor to be about as easy as pushing a large boulder up a hill with his shoulder." Passage of the bill "would mean that people would have to be held accountable for their own actions and their own obesity and that would be a significant philosophical departure from the way this Legislature likes to do business," the editorial concludes (Contra Costa Times, 3/7).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.