Fat Chance

|

Last week U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet allowed two overweight New York teenagers who blame McDonald's for making them fat proceed with their lawsuit against the fast food chain. Sweet rejected the company's motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that it did not adequately describe a cause of action. He had twice dismissed the suit for that reason, but the second time around an appeals court concluded that attorney Samuel Hirsch, who seems to be learning his trade as he goes along, had alleged something resembling a claim under a New York consumer protection law that forbids deceptive advertising. On remand, Sweet asked Hirsch to cite specific ads and explain how the plaintiffs, Ashley Pelman and Israel Bradley, were injured by relying on them. Satisfied that Hirsch had met this minimal requirement the third time around, Sweet is letting the case, which aspires to be a class action, continue to the next stage. McDonald's now has 30 days to respond to Hirsch's complaint.

The plaintiffs claim McDonald's misleadingly implied its food was healthy, did not adequately disclose the use of additives, and did not follow through on its promise to provide nutritional information at its New York City outlets. Assuming the case goes to trial, they will have to show that these alleged actions and omissions caused them to eat at McDonald's when they otherwise would not have and that eating at McDonald's caused their "physical injuries of weight gain, obesity, hypertension, and elevated levels of LDL cholesterol." This is a tall order, especially for a lawyer who needed three tries to state a legally valid claim.

Advertisement

NEXT: Rick Santorum Debates Invisible Man

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I am going to start eating scoops of butter, and then I am going to swim in a vault filled with gold from the butter-margarine-military complex like Scrooge McDuck… if I find a way to stop my arteries from exploding, of course.

  2. Reminds me of a Mcdonalds comercial i saw yesterday.
    A little girl, maybe age 6 or 7, wants to dress up as a princess for the day. The mom’s line is, “..because what goes ON her tummy isn’t nearly important as what goes IN it” cut to shot of little girl wearing a princess costume and eating a happy meal at mcdonalds.
    I’m completely against this kind of lawsuit, because i don’t think any reasonable person actually believes a big mac is healthy. However, that comercial is disgusting and mcdonalds was just asking to get sued by running it.

  3. I always enjoy lawsuits that require plaintiffs to allege – and prove – that they are total moron-jackasses in order to win.

  4. Win? The lawyer, while hoping for a home run,
    will settle for a single….an offer of, say,
    $100,000 to simply go away. Only a “loser pays”
    regime will stop harassing and extortionist lawsuits.

  5. I predict that, should the lawyer hit a home run, with a class certified, he will get a multi-million dollar payout. Mickey D’s obese customers, (the class members) will get coupons good for McSalads.

    Kevin

  6. What we have here is far worse than the usual parasitic lawyer looking to make a buck. This is a nanny looking to impose his will on consumers. This is the proverbial tyrany for our own good.

  7. I never have understood the childish complaint about McDonald’s et al not providing nutritional information. Not only have I known since I was a child how many calories are in a Big Mac and order of fries, but it is trivially easy to find on the internet, some franchises have it posted, and virtually all will provide the data on request. In contrast, “sit-down”restaurants like Applebees, Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s, etc do not provide this data at all – for good reason. Their food is far worse than fast food. The chili cheese fries at Outback have THREE THOUSAND calories, according to one external source I once read.

  8. This is a tall order, especially for a lawyer who needed three tries to state a legally valid claim.

    Actually, I’m kind of impressed he stated a claim at all. Only took three tries to turn “I ate at McDonald’s and got fat so give me money” into a recognizable cause of action? Damn fine work if you ask me. I wouldn’t have thought it possible. Then again, I am from time to time accused of having common sense.

    The pisser here, for me, is that it’s just too easy to amend a complaint and refile. Bring back the good ole days when attorneys had to actually know the law, the facts, and the code of civil procedure or risk having their case kicked out of court forever.

  9. He should subpoena a McDonald’s handout “Nutrition & Quality from McDonald’s” McD #10932 c1983 FC965-014

    I’ve had it hanging on a kitchen cupboard all this time, but with a Lacoste alligator added to the pic of wholesome farm foods like eggs, cheese, meat, milk, butter …

    I copied out the text somewhere … hmm [googles]

    Try this, the url is not too long I hope
    http://groups.google.com/group/sci.med.nutrition/msg/9c98ccad98080447?dmode=source&hl=en

    Not that I favor the suit except for entertainment value.

  10. I want updated pictures and health information for these allegedly injured teenagers. I’m certain that the “physical injuries of weight gain, obesity, hypertension, and elevated levels of LDL cholesterol.” are all better by now.

  11. Taking this ridiculous suit seriously for a sec; shouldn’t the plaintiffs, at least, have to show that they consumed some critical amount of calories from the MacD food?

  12. I’m with Kip. Fat food chains and liquor producers come close to crossing a line with their ads showing slim, healthy people. His example was worse, of course. I’m not saying they should present a lard-ass stuffing his face with a triple burger and a cheap beer, but…

    This is really embarrassing. I normally keep my inner leftist dead bolted in a small closet in my head…

    Maybe I’d feel better if they would occasionaly feature a middle age dude wolfin down a grease burger and then falling over dead from a massive heart attack. Monty Python line: “But our sales would plummet!”

    Now I’m going to have to go and rethink all my assumptions, like the guy in the movie Pi.

  13. Why not sue the Federal government whose corn-subsidies led them to eat a diet most likely replete with High fructose corn syrup and a plethora of goodies made of corn meal fried in corn oil. That’s a lawsuit (along with Rafael Nadal) is something I’d like to get behind.

  14. That being said (with a nice mangled last line in that last post of mine), if I were a juror in that case, before I would consider the points about misleading advertisements, I wouldn’t even think of voting against McDonald’s unless the plantiff can prove to me that if McDonald’s didn’t exist, then the kids wouldn’t be fat.

  15. If this sort of case succeeds too often, our legal system will implode. And no, I’m not exaggerating. When our economy comes to a standstill, it’ll be because of stupid regulations and obnoxiously stupid litigation. The judge is an idiot for not dismissing this suit out of hand and for not disciplining the attorney. Jesus, I’m in good shape, and I eat at McDonald’s (usually just breakfast) fairly regularly. If they’re guilty, then so is every food chain that serves anything fattening, every junk food manufacturer, every cow, etc. In fact, even healthy food can be fattening in mass quantities. Oh, and good-bye beer!

  16. yet another reason to make fun of and ridicule fat kids.

  17. Now wait a camelsfoot minute.

    Mac D’s paid a couple million to the tootsie with the wet crotch after she dumped a cuppa joe init. What’s to keep a jury pool of five feet tall, 200 pound greasy fingered ne’er do wells from finding them guilty on this one?

    If they make pot legal in Nevada, I’m moving there, stay high until I catch cancer, and then sue the state for making it legal.

  18. Hey DoUWant3rdDegreeBurnsOnYourCrotch,

    The Consumer Attorneys of California, who put out that flawed propoganda peice, retracted it after McDonalds threatened a libel lawsuit. They admitted they outright lied about the facts.

    In real life, if that McDonalds had been a Starbucks, it would have lost its franchise for its coffee being too cold.

  19. Reminds me of a Mcdonalds comercial i saw yesterday.
    A little girl, maybe age 6 or 7, wants to dress up as a princess for the day. The mom’s line is, “..because what goes ON her tummy isn’t nearly important as what goes IN it” cut to shot of little girl wearing a princess costume and eating a happy meal at mcdonalds.
    I’m completely against this kind of lawsuit, because i don’t think any reasonable person actually believes a big mac is healthy. However, that comercial is disgusting and mcdonalds was just asking to get sued by running it.

    I saw that commercial too, but IIRC they were showing off their more healthy stuff, like apples instead of french fries, in their happy meal. I think that’s a) a good thing and b) something they should be advertising. The fact is that we will take our kids to McDonalds at least on occasion. And it’s nice that if you do take them, that you have some healthier options for the Happy Meal.

  20. oh,That’s seems not so well,what should we do better.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.