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Court reinstates part of fast-food lawsuit

Wed., Jan. 26, 2005

NEW YORK – An appeals court Tuesday revived part of a class-action lawsuit blaming McDonald’s for making people fat, reinstating claims pertaining to deceptive advertising.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court judge erred when he dismissed parts of the lawsuit brought on behalf of two New York children.

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet dismissed the lawsuit in 2003 because he said it failed to link the children’s alleged health problems directly to McDonald’s products.

But the appeals judges said New York’s general business law requires a plaintiff to show only that deceptive advertising was misleading and that the plaintiff was injured as a result. The panel upheld other parts of the dismissal.

In a statement, Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s Corp. said “common sense tells you this particular case makes no sense,” adding the ruling “simply delays the inevitable conclusion that this case is without merit.”

The lawsuit alleges that tens of thousands of children have suffered obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and other health problems after being misled about McDonald’s products.

Sweet ruled that consumers cannot blame McDonald’s if they choose to eat at its fast-food restaurants.

“If a person knows or should know that eating copious orders of supersized McDonald’s products is unhealthy and may result in weight gain,” Sweet had written, “it is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses.”


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