Free Minds & Free Markets

The Rise of the Food-Related Lawsuit: New at Reason

Credit: NACHO DOCE/REUTERS/NewscomCredit: NACHO DOCE/REUTERS/NewscomFood lawsuits are on the rise. At first glance, most are terrible, some are good, and others require a closer look. It's not easy to tell the difference between each type, which is why it's important to look at who stands to benefit from these lawsuits and what they might accomplish for consumers.

What makes a food lawsuit "good" or "bad"? For one, we can ask if a defendant did exactly what the suit alleges, was the defendant wrong to do so? If the court rules in the plaintiff's favor—and against the defendant—will the plaintiff be better off and will the defendant be sufficiently discouraged from behaving similarly in the future? In the case of larger lawsuits (larger either in terms of monetary damages or because the suit is filed on behalf of more than one plaintiff), would society benefit if the court were to find in favor of the plaintiffs?

We must also consider the unintended consequences of such lawsuits, writes Baylen Linnekin. We should seek to understand whether a suit harms society (say, through added costs, decreased availability of products or services, or encouraging frivolous litigation) in any way. And we should applaud cases where the judicial branch makes injured parties whole while discouraging similar bad actors and actions in the future, all without the need for new laws and regulations.

Photo Credit: NACHO DOCE/REUTERS/Newscom


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