Taking to the airwaves, the Center for Consumer Freedom went after angry trial lawyers, who were all in a tizzy over the “Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act,” which overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives, 276-139. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL), aims to protect restaurants and food manufacturers from frivolous, costly obesity lawsuits. One particularly incendiary exchange on CNBC’s Capital Report between CCF and Harvard law professor Arthur Miller — who was defending obesity suits — resulted in Mr. Miller suggesting infamous trial lawyer John “Sue the Bastards” Banzhaf be banished from the country.
Here’s the exchange:
CCF: I’ll tell you what’s silly is suing somebody because you’re too stupid to stop after the fourth Big Mac and then having the price of everybody else’s food go up. And those lawsuits are never going to slim anybody down. All it’s going to do is fatten the wallets of trial lawyers … Mr. Banzhaf says, and I quote him — he says, “We’re going to sue them and sue them and sue them. And somewhere a jury’s going to buy this, and then the floodgates are going to open.” Well, hooray for Congress for locking the floodgates.
MILLER: I’ll tell you what. Let’s pass a statute. We’ll protect you. We’ll pass a statute saying that Mr. Banzhaf has to leave the country.
CCF: Well, OK.
Outstanding idea, Professor Miller. We can only hope you are dutifully working with Congress at this very moment to draft the “Permanent Vacation for John Banzhaf Act.”
Later in the evening, on CNBC’s The News, CCF went head-to-head with the future émigré himself, explaining:
The House did a tremendous thing today. They responded to the 89 percent of Americans that agree that these lawsuits are silly, and that they have no place in the court of law. They’re tired of this blame game. They’re tired of these [plaintiffs] that are trying to blame industry for their problems of their own excesses, and they don’t want to see our dinner plates become the next cash cow for the trial lawyers.
There’s nothing that scares trial lawyers and food cops more than the notion that Americans are responsible for their own actions. Banzhaf’s solution to a setback, of course, is a lawsuit. Yesterday on CNN’s Crossfire, he even threatened to sue the Congressman he was debating, as well as Congress collectively. (You were only kidding, right Mr. Banzhaf?)