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In the Crossfire

Judge throws out McDonald's lawsuit

McDonald's France puts out a warning to its customers that they should not eat fast food more than once a week.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal court Judge Robert Sweet lifted a class-action lawsuit against McDonald's Wednesday, which blamed the fast-food restaurant giant for making some of its patrons obese.

Those who overindulge in oversized value meals should know there's a health risk, he said. "It is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses," the judge said.

George Washington law professor John Banzhaf, the man behind the lawsuit, joined hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on Wednesday to defend his case.

BEGALA: You can't win this thing.

BANZHAF: The judge dismissed the case only for one reason.


BANZHAF: He said we didn't make certain allegations. He told us we would have to allege that there were risks, which the average person didn't know about ... and then he went further.

He actually told us what he wanted in. Let me read you what you he said. He said, "How about zeroing in on those McNuggets? Chicken McNuggets"...

BEGALA: What part of the chicken is that from, by the way?

BANZHAF: You don't want to know.


BANZHAF: "Chicken McNuggets, rather than being merely chicken fried ... are a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook. McNuggets, while seemingly a healthier option than McDonald's hamburgers, because they have chicken in their names, actually contain more fat per ounce, twice the fat per ounce, of a hamburger. "This," he said, "is a fact a reasonable consumer might not know."

John Banzhaf: "... What the judge is also saying is a lot of people are misled into believing that the [McDonald's] chicken is healthier than the beef ..."

Therefore, if we amend the complaint, we're back in court. Sorry about that.

CARLSON: I wonder if it has occurred to you, professor -- you are, by the way the man behind this ludicrous lawsuit -- that the judge...

BANZHAF: The man said with a B.S. and no understanding of the law.

CARLSON: The judge here is mocking you. What he's saying...

BANZHAF: Oh, really? ... Did you read the whole opinion?

CARLSON: No, just from what you said -- I can tell when someone's making fun of you, having done it myself.

BANZHAF: OK. You haven't read the opinion. You haven't read the opinion. ... I read the opinion. You're telling me... with no legal background what a judge has said in a 65-page opinion you haven't read. That's typical!

CARLSON: Let me just put up one line here, professor.

BANZHAF: One line out of a 65-page opinion. OK.

CARLSON: Actually, I think this is pretty clear... if you're capable of responding to it. ....

Judge Sweet says, "If a person knows or should know that eating copious orders of supersized McDonald's products is unhealthy and may result in weight gain, it's not the place of the law to protect them from their own successes. ... That's sort of a deep point, isn't it?

BANZHAF: If the people are given the facts. But what the judge is also saying is a lot of people are misled into believing that the chicken is healthier than the beef, whereas, once McDonald's gets finished with it, this McFrankenstein version, it is twice as unhealthy as the beef. I won't even tell what you he says about the French fries, guys.

CARLSON: What does he know? He's a judge. I mean, he's not...

BANZHAF: Well -- well, first, you're quoting him. Now you say he doesn't know anything. All we're saying is, "Look, if you guys want to eat the fries, the chicken, whatever, let them give you the information."

BEGALA: Yes. What do you see? You want them to put a little label on the back the way packaged food has? ...

BANZHAF: You know what one warning should say?


BANZHAF: The warning McDonald's is already putting out right now today...

It says you should not eat out at McDonald's more than once a week. McDonald's is putting out that warning.

Now, before your eyes pop out of your head, it's McDonald's in France. McDonald's in the U.S. says McDonald's in France is crazy, but McDonald's in France recognizes that not everybody knows that eating out at McDonald's four or five or six times a week might not be healthy. ... You know, these warnings are not for [people] like you guys. They are for people who perhaps are not quite as bright.

BEGALA: So you want warning that says, "Don't come here more than once a week." I think this is a good idea, and they ought to disclose how much fat and calories [the products have.] ...

So is that what you're seeking or are you seeking like billions of dollars and shutting down McDonald's?

BANZHAF: No, if legislators don't legislate, litigators have to litigate. If McDonald's did this on its own, if Congress required it, I'd be happy to drop all the lawsuits.

CARLSON: Very quickly. We're almost out of time, but you've implied that some people, as you put it, not the best and brightest, had no idea that McDonald's makes you fat, that eating too much of it can add pounds. Name one. I want his name. Who is that dumb? Tell us.

BANZHAF: The two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, ... one of whom is under 12. One of whom was a homeless child during this entire period, and I don't think you can expect an awful lot out of a 12-year-old homeless child.

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