Opportunistic trial lawyer John Banzhaf admitted in Men’s Health magazine last summer that suing restaurants for their customers’ obesity would be a stretch. “The biggest problem,” he said, “is what lawyers call causation… it’s hard to tell what caused a heart attack. What percentage is obesity, versus other factors? And was McDonald’s 4 percent, versus 2 percent for Häagen-Dazs?”
And just last week, Banzhaf spent a few seconds on the side of common sense when he told MSNBC’s Dan Abrams: “Everybody knows that, if you want to lose weight, you eat less, less calorie input, and more exercise. You don’t have to learn that.”
Banzhaf and his colleague Samuel Hirsch were dealt a huge setback today as U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet agreed with this logic, short-circuiting their bid to cash in on the nation’s perceived “obesity epidemic.” Judge Sweet dismissed their lawsuit against McDonald’s this morning, affirming that the restaurant chain is not responsible for the eating habits of its overweight customers.
“If a person knows or should know that eating copious orders of super-sized McDonalds’ products is unhealthy and may result in weight gain,” Judge Sweet ruled this morning, “it is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses.”
The suit, brought on behalf of a group of obese “children” (including one 19-year-old), was a follow-up to an of earlier legal action filed against four restaurants on behalf of Caesar Barber, an obese adult who suffered health problems due to a poor diet and lack of exercise. After much public criticism, Hirsch and Banzhaf went back to the drawing board and used kids as bait for their second multi-billion-dollar fishing expedition.
“Common sense prevailed in the justice system today,” said Richard Berman, Executive Director of the Center for Consumer Freedom. “Judge Sweet delivered a decisive setback to Hirsch and Banzhaf, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Their first case was laughed out of the court of public opinion, and never even made it to a judge’s chambers. The entire episode was a tabloid farce, cooked up to fatten a few attorneys’ wallets.”
Mr. Berman added: “Anyone with an IQ higher than room temperature understands that the best way to stay healthy is to enjoy a variety of foods in moderation — and, of course, to exercise regularly. It’s a shame that the courts had to waste a lot of time and money just to teach a few showboating lawyers what the rest of us have known since kindergarten.”