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The US House of Representatives voted yesterday in favor of legislation that would prevent citizens from filing class action suits against fast food restaurants and food companies blaming them for making people fat and unhealthy.

The legislation, dubbed the “cheeseburger bill,” is similar to laws passed in 21 states.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis) said that such lawsuits cost the fast food industry millions of dollars and result in raised prices for consumers. "These suits would be laughable if they were not so harmful," he said.

While numerous suits have been filed against fast food chains, there never has been a major victory by litigants against them – certainly not on the scale of the successful suits against tobacco companies, which the fast food suits were meant to emulate.

The bill now goes to the US Senate. The House passed a similar bill last year, but the Senate ran out of time to vote on it.
KC's View:
Unpopular view to express in a venue like this, but we profoundly disagree with these protectionist bills.

Not that we think that people shouldn’t be responsible for their own health and diets. We do.

But the question is whether the bills exists to force people to be responsible for themselves, or to protect companies that now may be free to make less responsible decisions.

We simply believe in due process. If lawsuits are without merit, then they shouldn’t succeed. But due process seems to us to be an important element of our democracy that shouldn’t be cast aside in select cases.