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July 30, 2004

Gov. Blagojevich signs Illinois Common Sense Consumption Act
New law limits obesity lawsuits against food industry, encourages healthy eating

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law barring consumers from suing restaurants based on injury claims related to obesity. House Bill 3981 creates the Illinois Common Sense Consumption Act and is an effort to prevent frivolous lawsuits and encourage responsible dietary habits.
“Obesity is a serious problem in Illinois.  But, blaming a restaurant for weight gain is not the answer,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “By signing this law, we are promoting personal responsibility and common sense eating habits.”
House Bill 3981, sponsored by Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) and Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago), prohibits people from filing suit against a restaurant for injury resulting from weight gain, obesity or any other related health condition.  HB 3981 does not exempt companies from state or federal laws concerning marketing, production or sale of food.
“The purpose of this legislation is to stem the tide of frivolous law suits against fast food outlets and restaurants,” said Sen. Cullerton.  “Obesity is not caused by the people who sell food, it is caused by the people who eat food. We must put the focus on healthier lifestyles and nutritional balance instead of costly lawsuits and litigation that only serve to clog up our courts and drive up the cost of a meal.”
Nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight and nearly one-third of adults are obese.  In Illinois, the Centers of Disease Control reports six percent of all adults are obese and almost eight percent of Illinois Medicare recipients are obese.
House Bill 3981 follows highly publicized obesity class action lawsuits filed in New York against McDonald’s Corp.  The suits were eventually dismissed by a federal judge.  This year, Louisiana passed legislation similar to Illinois’ Common Sense Consumption Act, and Congress is debating a similar measure dubbed the “Cheeseburger Bill.”   
House Bill 3981 is effective January 1st, 2005.


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