Trick or Tort? If you’re not careful, that might be the question you hear tonight as a band of marauding trial lawyers troll the streets for their next frivolous lawsuit against food purveyors. Think that’s a ghost story? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. For more than a year, The Boston Globe reports, lawyers from the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) have been plotting a witchs’ brew of lawsuits.
According to the Globe:
For the past year, [PHAI director Richard] Daynard’s group has been quietly soliciting parents and teenagers across the state to serve as plaintiffs in a lawsuit it hopes to file as soon as next month. The effort is part of a national campaign, coordinated by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Lawyers plan to ask a judge to certify the suit as a class action, which will serve as a model for similar lawsuits around the country.
In July, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported:
[CSPI Director of Litigation Steven] Gardner outlined a plan that would involve filing suits on a state-by-state basis, claiming that selling the drinks in schools qualifies as an unfair or deceptive practice or that it is a public nuisance … CSPI has taken out ads, including some in Massachusetts newspapers, looking for plaintiffs, Gardner said.
Sure enough, we found this ad in a small newspaper in Amherst, MA.
The Globe quotes Daynard insisting: “The evidence is crystal clear that this [soda] is making a substantial contribution to the obesity epidemic and the likelihood of developing chronic illness.” We have told you before that this is nonsense. Now a brand new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the International Journal of Obesity reports “evidence for the association between sugar-sweetened drink consumption and obesity is inconclusive.” The study noted:
[A]nalysis of … national data showed no association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and BMI [body mass index] calculated from self-reported height and weights of children and adolescents.
But since trial lawyers generally don’t care much about the actual science, it’s wise to protect yourself from their ghoulish cash-grab. That’s why we drafted our Halloween Liability and Indemnification Agreement, designed to protect treat-givers from lawsuits blaming them for obesity. Click here to download the form. Signers agree not to haul treat-dispensers into court on the basis of:
Failure to provide nutritional information;
Failure to warn of potential for overeating because candy tastes too good and is provided at no cost;
Failure to offer healthier alternatives including, but not limited to, soy-based or sugar-free treats;
Failure to provide information about other venues serving alternative, healthier Halloween treats; and
Failure to warn that eating too much may lead to obesity.
With this waiver, Halloween treaters can keep the trickster food police at CSPI off their front porch. They can also protect themselves from lawsuits filed by greedy trial lawyers, dressed up as concerned citizens, who threaten to sue restaurants, food companies, school boards, doctors, and even parents for the nation’s extra pounds.