Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Doyle vetoes legislation to prevent suits against restaurants, fast-food chains

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed legislation March 17 that would
have prevented state residents from suing restaurants and food
companies for causing obesity.

<p>”This bill provides, with certain exceptions, a civil
liability exemption for the food industry from lawsuits relating to
a person’s weight gain, obesity or weight-related health conditions
as the result of food consumption,” Doyle said in his veto

<p>Since only a few reported lawsuits have been filed
nationally, and none in Wisconsin, Doyle said, “This legislation is
a solution in search of a problem and is not needed.”


<p>However, Rep. Dan Vrakas, R – Delafield,
disagrees, claiming obesity lawsuits will not solve the problem of
overweight Americans.

<p>”By vetoing this legislation, the governor is choosing
to side with those who believe it’s OK to blame others rather than
take responsibility for their own actions. This legislation is a
common-sense measure to protect restaurants, food distributors and
manufacturers from lawsuits that could threaten their livelihood,”
Vrakas said in a release.

<p>Speaker John Gard, R-Peshtigo, also opposes Doyle’s
veto and defends the bill as holding people responsible for their
own actions and not placing blame on restaurants, according to
Steve Baas, Gard’s press secretary.

<p>”It is your responsibility what you put in your mouth,
and you can’t bring lawsuits against a restaurant or a food
distributor saying it is their fault that you are fat,” Baas

<p>Lisa Howard, a corporate communications director for
McDonald’s, thinks the issue is not about any particular restaurant
or food; rather, it is about personal responsibility and individual

<p>”Lawsuits targeting individual companies do a
disservice to those who are looking for real solutions,” she said
in a release.

<p>However, in his veto message Doyle maintains that,
“Providing the food industry with an exemption from a remote chance
of liability does not fit the norm and does not further any
pressing societal need.”

<p>Obesity remains a major, growing concern in Wisconsin.
In 2001, 58.2 percent of adults were either overweight or obese and
the trend in obesity rates continues to grow as rates have doubled
in Wisconsin in the past decade, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.

<p>In response to the problem of obesity in Wisconsin,
Doyle plans to launch a “Get Active Wisconsin” campaign to promote
a more active lifestyle for Wisconsin residents by challenging them
to a six-week program available by registering at

<p>”While this challenge is not focused on weight loss, it
is about motivating everyone in Wisconsin to get active. Good
nutrition, balanced lifestyle choices and regular exercise are all
components of being healthy,” Doyle said in a release.

<p>Although Baas applauds efforts to encourage people to
be more active and supports Doyle’s challenge efforts, he does not
think the government will be very effective at convincing people to
lead healthier lives.

<p>Baas predicts the issue will be raised again in the
spring due to lingering legislative concerns about the governor’s
veto. For his part, Doyle said he stands by his veto.


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