Judge dismisses obesity lawsuit against McDonald's

Sept. 4, 2003

NEW YORK — U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet dismissed a lawsuit by two Bronx teenagers claiming McDonald's used misleading advertising and the company's food made them fat.

The New York Post reported Sweet said the plaintiffs' parents failed to provide any evidence the food made them unhealthy.

"Plaintiffs have not made any attempt to isolate the particular effect of McDonald's foods on their obesity and other injuries," Sweet said. He also said they failed to show evidence they saw advertisements that were deceptive.

In the lawsuit, the children claimed they suffered from high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels after dining at McDonald's daily. Their parents claimed McDonald's was negligent because it failed to warn them of the dangers of eating a diet of Big Macs, French fries and thick shakes.

National Restaurant Association President and CEO Steven C. Anderson said he was pleased with Sweet's ruling.

"Once again, reason and common sense have prevailed," Anderson said in a release. "The National Restaurant Association is pleased by (Sweet's) dismissal of the lawsuit in its entirety. We have long maintained that this lawsuit was senseless and baseless, and this ruling confirms our position."

This was the second time Sweet dismissed the complaint. In his ruling, Sweet closed the door on a possible third suit, saying it would be futile.

Anderson said the judge's ruling echoes the sentiment of most Americans.

"Today's ruling clearly underscores what Americans have overwhelmingly felt — as evidenced by a recent Gallup poll — that these lawsuits are frivolous, and that 89 percent of Americans felt that the restaurant industry should not be held legally responsible for obesity-related health problems among some Americans.

"The thought that someone can file a lawsuit based in part on a choice they have made voluntarily regarding where to dine and what to eat is disturbing, and Judge Sweet's decision and the polling data attest to the fact that personal responsibility plays a significant role in this complex issue," he said.

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