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Press Release -- Gov. Signs Obesity Bill
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For Immediate Release

August 2, 2004


Illinois Restaurants Score Major Victory!

Governor Blagojevich Signs Act Barring Lawsuits Against Restaurants Into Law


Springfield, IL – After receiving unanimous support from both the Illinois House of Representatives and State Senate, the Illinois Commonsense Consumption Act (House Bill 3981) was signed into law by Governor Rod Blagojevich on Friday and will take effect on January 1, 2005. The Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) applauds the actions of the Governor, as well as the Illinois legislature who supported this important bill, to protect restaurants against frivolous lawsuits.


“This is an important victory for the restaurant industry and it’s over 360,000 employees in Illinois,” said Ron DiNella, chairman of the IRA and Senior Vice President of Finance for Morton’s, The Steakhouse. “By signing the Illinois Commonsense Consumption Act into law, Governor Blagojevich has sent a clear message that frivolous lawsuits against restaurants are not the way to solve the complex problem of obesity in our state.”


“There is no question that the issue of obesity is a serious problem confronting our society that is costing us lives and money,” said Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) who introduced the legislation.  “But not every issue dictates the need to have a defendant in a lawsuit.”


HB 3981, co-sponsored by House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Plainfield) and Rep. Eileen Lyons (R-Western Springs), and co-sponsored in the Senate by John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont), prevents food service establishments from being sued for an individual’s obesity. The Act makes exceptions for knowingly and willfully adulterating products that violate state and federal law.


"The purpose of this legislation is to stem the tide of frivolous lawsuits 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."


The Illinois Commonsense Consumption Act mirrors federal legislation, the Commonsense Consumption Act (HR 339), which recently passed the House of Representatives 276-139.  Illinois now becomes the twelfth state to pass obesity-related legislation in the U.S.  The Governor’s signing of this bill further supports the IRA’s position that frivolous lawsuits will not solve the complex and serious issue of obesity in our state and that placing blame solely on the restaurant industry will only hurt small business owners all across Illinois.


“The restaurant industry has long been committed to promoting healthy lifestyles,” said Colleen McShane, president of the IRA. “The Illinois Restaurant Association supports educational programs that focus on nutritional balance, moderation, physical activity and commonsense, rather than scapegoating the foodservice industry.”


The IRA commends the Governor for his quick action on this bill and is appreciative of his support for the industry on this important issue. The restaurant industry continues to provide patrons with myriad choices when dining out and promotes moderation as the key to a healthy lifestyle.






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