Senate Subcommittee Considers Bill To Ban Obesity-Related Lawsuits
Obesity-related lawsuits cost companies millions of dollars in legal fees and do not address the obesity issue in the United States, physicians and tort reform supporters said Thursday at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts hearing on a bill that would prohibit such lawsuits, the Washington Times reports (Higgins, Washington Times, 10/17). The legislation, introduced in July by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), would protect food manufacturers from lawsuits filed over allegations that their products are responsible for obesity or weight gain. The bill would prohibit such lawsuits in state or federal court and would request the dismissal of lawsuits filed before the enactment of the law. The bill covers all food and beverages outlined in the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (CongressDaily, 7/17). Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.) introduced a similar bill in the House (Higgins, Washington Times, 7/17). Dr. Gerard Musante, founder of a North Carolina weight-loss company, told subcommittee members that obesity-related lawsuits do not lead to improved public health. Russel Sutter, author of a report by management consulting firm Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, also testified that a ban on obesity-related lawsuit would help control U.S. legal costs. McConnell said, "The food police are now sounding the alarm and saying that the rise in obesity corresponds to the increased availability of fast food. What they want you to believe is that the food sellers are causing the obesity." However, public health advocates have said that restaurants and food manufacturers should have to disclose more nutritional information about their products (Washington Times, 10/17).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.