The “Big Gulp” Bill, better known to lawmakers as House Bill 683, was signed into law on July 18, 2013. This law, known as The Commonsense Consumption Act, protects the fast food industry in North Carolina from frivolous obesity lawsuits, much like the class action suit filed by Bronx resident Caesar Barber in 2003 against McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and KFC.
Barbers complaint, filed with the Supreme Court of the state of New York, on behalf of himself and other individuals in similar situations, was later dismissed by the judge for not having enough evidence to back up his accusations. It was widely lauded by many as being a frivolous suit although, unlike other frivolous suits, Barber and his attorneys were not fined for their filing.
This Commonsense Consumption Act contains a clause, known as the Anti-Bloomberg Law, which restricts municipal and county governments from implementing bans on the serving size of food and beverages, much like what Mayor Bloomberg has done in New York City. So far, only the states of North Carolina and Mississippi have enacted “Anti-Bloomberg” laws.
In North Carolina, some are pointing out that the new laws’ provisions protecting the food industry against obesity suits may be unnecessary due to North Carolina’s contributory negligence laws.
In North Carolina, a plaintiff who pursues a civil lawsuit against a person under the theory that there has been negligence may be unsuccessful if even a portion of their injuries were caused by their own negligence. The theory of contributory negligence applies to all tort-based suits, including Auto Accidents and Medical Malpractice.
In an obesity case, presumably, a plaintiff could sue a major corporation like McDonalds for making them obese. However, because every person had control over what they eat, it is unlikely the suit would be successful in North Carolina.