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Minnesota Lawmaker Would Block Obesity Lawsuits

Minnesota’s “cheeseburger bill” is back on the grill in St. Paul.

State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, has again introduced legislation to bar obese Minnesotans from suing their favorite fast food restaurants for making them fat.

The “Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act” would prevent anyone in Minnesota from filing lawsuits against the likes of McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s for their weight gain.

In addition to shielding fast food restaurants, the bill would also protect farmers and others in the Minnesota food industry from frivolous lawsuits, Urdahl says.

Minnesota’s cheeseburger bill has been around since 2001 and actually passed the Minnesota House in 2005. This is an unusual year in Minnesota–both the House and Senate are controlled by the Republican Party.

McDonald’s has been sued–last December in California and in 2002 in New York–by plaintiffs making the very claim the cheeseburger law would take away. Urdahl says if someone gets fat from eating Big Macs, the fault lies with the person who ate them, not with  McDonald’s  for selling them.

Nor is Minnesota’s cheeseburger law that unusual. Twenty-three other states already prohibit such claims.

There is one place where obesity lawsuits are going forward–on television. ABC’s “Harry’s Law” took on the subject this week with a plot in which the overweight mother of several plump children won $880,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

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