Washington, DC – Responding to an overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose holding restaurants legally liable for obesity, the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to vote today on the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act—dubbed the “Cheeseburger Bill” by some. The bill protects restaurants and food service companies from an expected onslaught of frivolous litigation led by unscrupulous attorneys like John “Sue the Bastards” Banzhaf, who insists that thousands of companies are liable for the size of our love handles. His plan is to “sue them and sue them and sue them.”

Banzhaf gathered with other trial lawyers and food activists last summer in Boston at a conference “intended to encourage and support litigation against the food industry.” They formed a committee to shop obesity lawsuits to U.S. law firms, and a public relations committee to steer public opinion toward blaming restaurants for Americans’ love handles.

Americans overwhelmingly think that obesity is a matter of personal responsibility, and not the fault of food providers:

  • A 2003 Gallup Poll showed that nearly 9 in 10 Americans oppose the idea of holding fast-food companies legally responsible for the diet-related health problems of some of their customers.
  • Two out of three U.S. households surveyed by ACNielsen said parents or guardians are mostly to blame for obesity in children 17 and under, with fast-food restaurants blamed by only 10 percent and food manufacturers named by only 1 percent.
  • Opinion research firm Planet Feedback says Americans “are far less willing to blame the food and restaurant industry than they are to blame a lack of education and self-responsibility for the country’s weight problem.” In fact, 84 percent of those surveyed placed the primary responsibility for Americans’ weight problem on “individuals who do not exercise enough.”

The Cheeseburger Bill also enjoys a groundswell of support in the nation’s statehouses. Over 20 state legislatures have passed or are considering similar legislation. The Georgia House of Representatives recently passed its version unanimously (169-0) while the vote in Florida’s House of Representatives was 112 to 1.

“The public is fed up with special interests playing the blame game,” said Center for Consumer Freedom Executive Director Richard Berman. “Unprincipled trial lawyers shouldn’t be using our dinner plates as a launching pad to find their next cash cow. Congress should listen to the resounding opposition of state legislatures and their constituents who see these obesity lawsuits as frivolous and financially motivated.”

The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies, and consumers, working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.