What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Consumer Protection : H.R. 339. Food Industry Lawsuits/ Vote to Exclude Corporations That Sell Harmful Weight Loss Products or Dietary Supplements from the Legal Protections Contained in the Underlying Bill.
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H.R. 339. Food Industry Lawsuits/ Vote to Exclude Corporations That Sell Harmful Weight Loss Products or Dietary Supplements from the Legal Protections Contained in the Underlying Bill.
house Roll Call 52     Mar 10, 2004
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

During debate on legislation to prohibit lawsuits in both state and federal courts against corporations such as McDonald's and Burger King that adversely affect the health of consumers, Congresswoman Jackson-Lee (D-TX) proposed an amendment which would have prevented the legal protections contained in the underlying bill from applying to manufacturers and distributors of weight loss products such as ephedra which have been found to harm the health of consumers. As originally written, Jackson-Lee pointed out, the prohibition on lawsuits could apply to the manufacturers and distributors of harmful weight loss products and dietary supplements because the measure makes no distinction between food and dietary supplements. Moreover, Jackson-Lee noted, the underlying measure would apply its legal protections retroactively. Therefore, if the bill becomes law, lawsuits that allege harmful effects from weight loss products and dietary supplements which have already been filed could be nullified and consumers would have no legal recourse to receive damages caused by the consumption of harmful products. Progressives supported Jackson-Lee's amendment and argued that producers of dietary supplements which cause injury or death or consumers should not benefit from the legal protections contained in the underlying legislation. Progressives pointed out that the use of ephedra-a drug which achieves weight loss by accelerating an individual's metabolism-has already been linked to 18,000 adverse reactions and 155 deaths. Conservatives opposed Jackson-Lee's amendment because they viewed it as irrelevant to the underlying legislation. According to Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI), "this bill has nothing to do with weight loss products...It only deals with food that makes people increase their weight so that they become obese and have all of the medical problems related to obesity." On a vote of 166-250, the Jackson-Lee amendment was rejected and the underlying legislation was not amended to insure that consumers retain access to the courts to sue producers and distributors of harmful dietary supplements.

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