Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, no lawsuit...

The House has passed the bill saying that you can't sue Mickey D's if eating their food turns you into a Big Mac. I'm glad. While I don't like protectionist policy, I dislike frivolous lawsuits even more. And frankly, health problems because you pig out on fast food really fall under the Darwin Award category to me.

However, I do have one question for the legal eagles out there, in regards to a quote in this article:
"As one judge put it, if a person knows or should know that eating copious orders of super-sized McDonald's products is unhealthy and could result in weight gain, it is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses," said James Sensenbrenner, chairman of Judiciary Committee.
If any variant of this logic ends up in the actual bill, could that then be used to argue for things like drug legalization? I am not saying that I'm necessarily for or against it -- I'm not a proponent of recreational pharmaceuticals, but neither am I a fan of excessive legislation. But the statement "it is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses" could certainly apply to something like marijuana use. Is there a legal difference between "if you're dumb enough to pig out, you can't sue them because the purpose of law is not to protect you from your own stupidity," and "if you're dumb enough to waste your life being stoned, it's not illegal because the purpose of law is not to protect you from your own stupidity"?

For that matter, how does one reconcile this law with the lawsuits that the government has upheld against the tobacco industry? (Secondhand smoke being a potential argument here, yes...)

1 comment:

Brian D. said...

I'm not a lawyer...oh wait a second I'm finally sworn in so yes I am a lawyer.

Without seeing the entire opinion and the bill itself I'm just guessing here. However you can always make a public policy argument that you need food to survive, but you don't need drugs to survive. If you do need drugs to truly survive they are heavily regulated so that logic seems to work so far.

So the language of the judge still works. We know you need to eat something, but if you eat to excess and get fat then the law won't protect you from your stupidity. You don't need weed to survive so technically you're not going to excess with drugs.

Just my quick 30 second opinion.