The McFatties are back.
A month after a federal district judge dismissed their class action lawsuit against McDonald's, a group of overweight children and their parents filed a new complaint against the fast food giant maintaining that Ronald, Grimace and the Hamburglar must pay up for childhood obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
The revised lawsuit alleges that McDonald's misled consumers by getting them to believe that fast food fare was nutritious and "could easily be consumed as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle without any detrimental health effects." Furthermore, the new claims plead total ignorance on the part of the Super Sized kids because the Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets, Filets-O-Fish, and French Fries they ate with reckless abandon "were so processed with additives and other ingredients and preservatives as to create a danger and hazard unknown to... consumers."
Despite the tremendous legal stamina exhibited by the overweight, out-of-shape plaintiffs, their reprocessed allegations constitute nothing more than reheating bad leftovers.
The judge already ruled "that legal consequences should not attach to the consumption of hamburgers and other fast food fare unless consumers are unaware of the dangers of eating such food." For this reason, "one necessary element of any potentially viable claim must be that McDonald[']s products involve a danger that is not within the common knowledge of consumers," according to the court.
Seizing upon these comments, the plaintiffs' latest complaint dwells upon their lack of dietary knowledge in an effort to prove they didn't understand that eating a Quarter Pounder a day wouldn't keep the doctor away. Specifically, the plaintiffs argue that McDonald's is to blame and must pay for their weighty health problems since the less-than-tiny tots couldn't name every last ingredient in the food handed to them in a paper bag via the drive-thru window.
But a lack of such knowledge does not make McDonald's liable for the unfortunate but far from unforeseen consequences of the youths' daily consumption choices. As explained by the judge when he "deep fried" the original complaint, as long as "a person knows or should know that eating copious orders... of McDonald[']s is unhealthy and may result in weight gain (and its concomitant problems)... it is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses."
It is wholly irrelevant that the plaintiffs may not have known all the "McFrankenstein" ingredients that made up their daily unbalanced diets. The only legally important question is whether they understood that regularly chowing down on fast foods could enlarge their waistlines and constrict their arteries.
There is simply no question but that the corpulent complainers knew or, at least, should have known that a daily diet of fast food could cause significant health and weight difficulties. After all, "[i]t is well-known that fast food in general, and McDonald[']s products in particular, contain high levels of cholesterol, fat, salt, and sugar, and that such attributes are bad for one," as the judge pointed out a month ago. Based upon this common knowledge, the hurdle is still too high for the plaintiffs to succeed in picking McDonald's deep pockets for their own overindulgences.
To read more about the original dismissal of McLawsuit, click here.February 27, 2003
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