A lawsuit that sought damages from McDonald’s because the plaintiffs were obese was permanently tossed out of court yesterday. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet had dismissed the case in January, but allowed the plaintiffs’ lawyer one more bite at the apple. This time Sweet wrote: “Leave to amend the complaint is denied.” (click here to read the full decision)
“What the plaintiffs have not done,” Sweet’s ruling read, “is to address the role that a number of other factors other than diet may come to play in obesity and the health problems of which the plaintiffs complain … Other pertinent, but unanswered questions include: What else did the plaintiffs eat? How much did they exercise? Is there a family history of diseases …”
Sweet’s decision is a testament to common sense. He not only recognized that obesity has many causes, but also acknowledged that individuals have to take responsibility for their own diets. The plaintiffs, he argued, “either knew or should have known enough of the critical facts” about the nutritional value of the food they were eating to make wise decisions.
“Plaintiffs have failed,” Sweet concluded, “to draw an adequate causal connection between their consumption of McDonald’s food and their alleged injuries.” Instead, they offered “vague allegations.”
Of course, victory in this battle by no means guarantees success in the broader war. John Banzhaf, the legal shark leading the charge to sue food companies for the obesity of their customers, said the decision would not deter him.