House Passes 'Job-Saving' Cheeseburger Bill

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - By a vote of 276-139, the House of Representatives Wednesday passed a measure designed to eliminate frivolous lawsuits against the food industry by obese consumers.

The "Cheeseburger Bill" -- formally known as the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act -- was sponsored by Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.) and backed by the food industry.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) called the measure "a vote for American jobs and an acknowledgment that Americans need to take more responsibility for their actions."

He also noted that the food service industry employs approximately 12 million Americans whose jobs might be eliminated if lawsuits against fast food companies go forward.

Hastert called on the nation to "stop the feeding frenzy of lawsuit abuse in this country" because lawsuit abuse kills job creation. He also urged Americans to restore a sense of personal responsibility: "Suing your way to better health is not the answer," Hastert said.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.), said, "This legislation is designed to foreclose frivolous obesity-related lawsuits against the food industry that threaten American jobs and raise food prices for schools and the public.

"We need a little more common sense and healthy portions rather than ridiculous lawsuits seeking to blame the food industry for people's eating decisions."

Sensenbrenner said recent polls indicate the public strongly opposes obesity-related lawsuits against the food industry.

He pointed to a recent Gallup Poll, which showed 89 percent oppose holding the fast-food industry legally responsible for the diet-related health problems of people who eat that kind of food on a regular basis.

H.R. 339, with 119 bipartisan cosponsors, now moves to the Senate for consideration. Similar legislation (S. 1428) has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

See Earlier Story
ABC Special Blames Gov't, Food Industry for 'Obesity Epidemic' (8 Dec. 2003)