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"Given that a 2003 Gallup Poll found that 89 percent of Americans don't believe in blaming the fast-food industry for obesity, you'd think the bill is unnecessary. I take this vote as Washington's way of recognizing that in America, a bad idea, given enough time, will gain support, take root and become law." (Debra Saunders, "If you are what you eat, then sue", San Francisco Chronicle, Mar. 12). "Victor Schwartz, a leading expert on tort law who has been advising the National Restaurant Association, says these lawsuits still face formidable obstacles. He thinks a greater danger to the industry is that at some point state attorneys general will start filing lawsuits demanding compensation for Medicaid expenses, as they did with tobacco." (Jacob Sullum, "Fast Food Damnation", syndicated/Reason, Mar. 5). Blogger Kevin Drum (Calpundit) is torn and, he says, open to argument: "On the one hand, I don't think much of using civil damage suits aimed at a specific industry as a way of changing social policy. Down that road lies madness. But at the same time, I also don't think much of Congress exempting specific industries from the civil justice system. That can lead to some madness of its own." (Mar. 11). Vice Squad (Mar. 11) has links on various topics including McDonald's elimination of its Supersize offerings and developments in the U.K. on food regulation. The roll call on Wednesday's vote is here. (See Mar. 11 and links from there.)

[cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Mar. 13, 2004]

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.