TIME reports that king of torts John Banzhaf got the idea to sue fast food companies when he heard about a (deeply flawed) study reporting that obesity costs Americans $117 billion annually. “A fast-food company like McDonald’s may not be responsible for the entire obesity epidemic,” Banzhaf says. “But let’s say they’re 5 percent responsible. Five percent of $117 billion is still an enormous amount of money.”
This kind of thinking may sound sensible down at the carrot juice house, where Center for Science in the Public Interest food scolds go after a long day of self-deprivation. But we prefer the logic of William Burger, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who argued that a “mass neurosis” is what “leads people to think courts were created to solve all the problems of society.”
For those who think like Banzhaf, chew on this: the tort system costs Americans $180 billion a year. A lawyer like Banzhaf may not be responsible for the entire problem. But let’s say he’s 5 percent responsible. Five percent of $180 billion is still an enormous amount of money.