“Mr. Speaker, the same class-action lawyers that have sued other industries are turning towards our restaurant industry, pure and simple,” Congressman Bob Ney explained earlier this year during the floor debate on the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act. Ney continued: “They have held strategy sessions and seminars to hatch their schemes estimating they could reap hundreds of billions of dollars.” That’s largely why the bill to prevent these frivolous lawsuits passed by an overwhelming count of 276-139.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ric Keller, pointed out that any time you’re talking about obesity lawsuits, the usual group of hucksters and hustlers won’t be far behind. Commenting on Congressional opponents of his legislation, he opined:

What witness did they call? What guy did they think most helped them? They called a man named John Banzhaf, who said, “Somewhere there is going to be a judge and a jury that will buy this, and once we get the first verdict as we did with tobacco, it will open the flood gates.” That is who they called.

Arguing in support of personal responsibility, Rep. David Dreier remarked:

Suing Burger King is not going to improve anyone’s health. Personal responsibility and accountability are what are most important … We are clogging the judicial system with frivolous lawsuits [and] putting American jobs in jeopardy.

Dreier went on to say: “The amendments that have been filed last night appear to be nothing more than an all-out embrace of Ralph Naderism.” It turns out that the influence of Nader (who called a double cheeseburger a “weapon of mass destruction” ) was not so subtle. Rep. Jim McGovern introduced into the record a letter from the Nader-inspired Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) urging defeat of the bill. The group’s executive director, former Nader employee Michael Jacobson, has said that if his nutritional nirvana is to be forced on the rest of us, “it’s going to take a whole lot of lawsuits.”

How your representative voted on the so-called “cheeseburger bill” is a good indicator of whether he or she believes in protecting personal responsibility, or will allow trial lawyers to gorge on obesity lawsuit fees at the expense of our food freedoms. Click here to see where your representative stands.