Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

MN HF264 – The Cheeseburger Bill


H.F. No. 264, as introduced – 87th Legislative Session (2011-2012) Posted on Jan 31, 2011

1.1 A bill for an act
1.2 relating to civil actions; prohibiting actions against certain persons for weight

1.3
gain as a result of consuming certain foods;proposing coding for new law in

1.4
Minnesota Statutes, chapter 604.

1.5
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

1.6
Section 1. [604.191] PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN FOOD CONSUMPTION

1.7
ACT.
1.8 Subdivision 1. Title. This act may be cited as the Personal Responsibility in Food

1.9
Consumption Act.

1.10
Subd. 2. Definitions. (a) For purposes of this section the following terms have

1.11
the meanings given.

1.12
(b) “Long-term consumption” means the cumulative effect of the consumption of

1.13
food or nonalcoholic beverages, and not the effect of a single instance of consumption.

1.14
(c) “Party” means an individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership,

1.15
society, joint stock company, or any other entity, including any governmental entity.

1.16
Subd. 3. Immunity from civil liability. A producer, grower, manufacturer, packer,

1.17
distributor, carrier, holder, marketer, or seller of a food or nonalcoholic beverage intended

1.18
for human consumption, or an association of one or more of such entities, must not be

1.19
subject to civil liability based on any individual’s or group of individuals’ purchase or

1.20
consumption of food or nonalcoholic beverages in cases where liability arises from weight

1.21
gain, obesity, or a health condition associated with weight gain or obesity and resulting

1.22
from the individual’s or group of individuals’ long-term purchase or consumption of a

1.23
food or nonalcoholic beverage.

2.1 Subd. 4. Actions permitted. Subdivision 3 does not apply to a claim of weight
2.2
gain or obesity that is based on:

2.3
(1) a material violation of an adulteration or misbranding requirement prescribed

2.4
by state or federal statute, rule, or regulation and the claimed injury was proximately

2.5
caused by the violation; or

2.6
(2) any other material violation of federal or state law applicable to the

2.7
manufacturing, marketing, distribution, advertising, labeling, or sale of food, if the

2.8
violation is knowing and willful, and the claimed injury was proximately caused by the

2.9
violation.
2.10 Sec. 2. EFFECTIVE DATE.

2.11
Section 1 is effective the day following final enactment and applies to any action

2.12
brought by any party on or after the effective date.

Countered by opposing lawmakers in that:

  1. no such lawsuit has ever been filed in the state, and
  2. it’s the judge’s job to rule on the validity of legal claims,

(Dean) Urdahl (R-Grove City) has called his message preventative, pointing out that even if the prosecution did not win, a lot of expenses would be incurred.

“even if the prosecution did not win”. Under this law, we would never know. Under this law, some could be denied justice. I would expect the statute of limitations to severely limit the liability of “long-term consumption”, but that’s just the common sense talking.

There are times when the protection of businesses from the consequences of their actions is needful to protect the greater good.

The polio vaccine is one case in point.

It is the nature of vaccines, and human biology, that vaccines are imperfect in their effects. There are always a few who would react badly to the vaccine no matter how diligently it was produced. The risk of damages from those few would make the full cost of producing the vaccine prohibitive. Without the vaccine, polio could not have been eradicated and the cost to the greater population in lives and money would have far exceeded the cost of the public assuming the risk of the vaccine producer.

Oil exploration is another case in point.

Our economy is based on the availability of cheap oil. The unsustainability of that paradigm is a subject for another day. Today’s concern is that:

  1. While the need for oil is great at the macro level, the liabilities of oil exploration at the micro level would prevent the development of new sources. For this reason, it is in the interests of the greater good for the government to limit those liabilities – taking the remainder on itself and the people it represents. In theory.
  2. The Great Gulf Oil Spill demonstrated the danger of too much leniency for oil exploration, and too little regulation and liability – encouraging negligence and recklessness.

Obesity has become an epidemic problem that will aggravate an already seriously troubled health care system. The cost of health care is too high and rising. It represents too much of the economy. Protecting companies that contribute to this problem does not serve the greater good, but undermines it. They should only get this kind of protection if they provide accurate nutritional information on packaging or at point of sale.

If this bill were addressing an actual problem, I would give it due consideration. All things considered, this bill would bloat the state code for purely ideological reasons – a hallmark of bad government.

This act may also be cited as the No Moral Hazard for Prepared Foods Act.
Final two points I would like to make:

  1. This bill applies to all prepared and distributed food, not just “fast food”. It applies to “fine dining”, frozen pizza, cart vendors, and Meals on Wheels. Any prepared food from any source.
  2. It prevents lawsuits for actions that occurred before the law would go into effect. This gives it the effect of an ex post facto law – which is unconstitutional.

“No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.”
U. S. Constitution, Article I, section 9

I give this bill a failing grade.

The Cheeseburger Bill: GOP’s Urdahl tries again to get lawsuit immunity for fast-food restaurants
Minnesota House panel OKs bill barring fast-food lawsuits

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March 2, 2011 - Posted by | Legislation, Strangelove | , , , , , , , , , ,

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