Don#039;t blame McD#039;s

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 8, 2002

First, we had the infamous McDonald's hot coffee case, in which a woman won a multi-million dollar settlement after burning herself with a spilled cup of the beverage. Then there was the minister and his wife who sued a guide dog school when a guide dog in training stepped on the woman's toe. A college student in Idaho is suing his college because he fell from the fourth floor window after "mooning" someone – on the grounds that the school should have warned him of the dangers of the fourth floor. One wonders what his ACT score was in the first place.

And now, the same people behind the tobacco lawsuits are talking about a lawsuit against the fast food companies for causing America's obesity problem. The tobacco lawsuit was justified. Tobacco is highly addictive and investigation revealed unethical acts on the part of the tobacco companies to increase that addiction and, thusly, their profits.

Fast food may be psychologically addictive, but it is not physically addictive.

Apparently, denying culpability is also addictive. We have become a grossly litigious society, seeking to blame others for –

and profit

from – our own poor judgment. While legitimate suits are snarled in the endless cobweb of the legal system, the traffic in our courts is only made worse by these pathetic attempts to blame everyone but ourselves.

Why stop with fast food? Perhaps these lawyers should also go after the NFL for creating the Sunday couch potatoes, the beer companies for contributing to the spare tire of these armchair quarterbacks. Nintendo and Gameboy should be on the list, as well as every manufacturer of the personal computer, since all of these lure us to sit and stare at a flashing screen all day instead of going outside to exercise.

The judges are growing far less tolerant of these frivolous lawsuits, but they still have togive them an initial hearing, which still takes time and money. The problem needs to be stopped at the source, by penalizing those who bring the lawsuits – perhaps by fining them for the very amount they are requesting. It is time to put an end to the whiners' private lottery – no one wins but the lawyers.