N.Y. judge dismisses obesity lawsuit

Jan. 21, 2003

NEW YORK -- A federal judge dismissed on Jan. 20, a class-action lawsuit filed last summer on behalf of New York children claiming McDonald's food caused them health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

According to Newsday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet said in a 65-page ruling that if "consumers know (or reasonably should know) the potential ill health effects of eating at McDonald's, they cannot blame McDonald's if they, nonetheless, choose to satiate their appetite with a surfeit of supersized McDonald's products."

Sweet also wrote that any potentially viable claim against McDonald's or other similar restaurant product providers must "involve a danger that is not within the common knowledge of consumers. ... Plaintiffs have failed to allege with any specificity that such a danger exists."

Walt Riker, a spokesman for McDonald's, said in a prepared statement that common sense prevailed and that the company knew "from the beginning that this was a frivolous lawsuit. Today's ruling confirms that fact."

In a separate statement released by the National Restaurant Association, president and chief executive officer Steven C. Anderson said the NRA is hopeful the ruling will deter others from filing similarly frivolous lawsuits.

"We maintain that this lawsuit was senseless and baseless, and this ruling confirms our position," Anderson said in the release. "(T)he average American consumes 76 percent of meals at home. Healthier living can best be attained through balancing energy in and energy out; not by chastising some of America's favorite foods."

In the suit, the plaintiffs called the high fat, sugar and cholesterol content of McDonald's food "insipid" and "toxic" to children.

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