How would you rule if this case were brought in your court and you were the presiding judge?
FORUM #1 – Tort Litigation and the Fast Food Industry
Read the following case. Consider the two questions at the end of the case. Based on the principles of law covered in the text, express your opinion in the Forum. Also, be prepared to comment on someone else’s remarks on this case, preferably an individual who has a contrasting point of view from the one that you have.
Caesar Barber, from the Bronx, New York, weighs 272 pounds. He filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, and Burger King for contributing to his weight problem. He has a number of health problems commonly associated with high weight – two heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. He claims the fast food chains deceived him with ads that said “100 percent beef” and they created a de facto addiction. The case alleges that McDonald’s failed to adequately disclose material facts about its high fat food. “The law of warnings is not designed for the best and brightest of us…. It is aimed at helping people who need to be told not to stand on the top step of a ladder or not to use a hair dryer in the bathtub”, says John Banzhaf, a legal activism teacher at George Washington University Law School. All of the restaurants have nutritional information available on request in their restaurants and online. The plaintiff claims that he didn’t know how fattening or harmful the food was. The TV and print ads promoted the foods as healthy, economical, tasty, and convenient. Also, it is alleged by plaintiffs that the fast food restaurants could use healthier ways to prepare the food. Hence this lawsuit was filed.
1.How would you rule if this case were brought in your court and you were the presiding judge?
2. Should the fast food restaurants be held liable? If so, what legal theories covered would be applicable?
CASE FOR FORUM #2
PGA Tour, Inc., sponsors professional golf tournaments. A player may enter in several ways, but the most common method is to successfully compete in a three-stage qualifying tournament known as the “Q-School.” Anyone may enter the Q-School by submitting two letters of recommendation and paying $3,000 to cover greens fees and the cost of a golf cart, which is permitted during the first two stages, but is prohibited during the third stage. The rules governing the events include the “Rules of Golf,” which apply at all levels of amateur and professional golf and do not prohibit the use of golf carts, and the “hard card,” which applies specifically to the PGA tour and requires the players to walk the course during most of a tournament. Casey Martin is a talented golfer with a degenerative circulatory disorder that prevents him from walking golf courses. Martin entered the Q-School and asked for permission to use a cart during the third stage. PGA refused. Martin filed a suit in a federal district court against PGA, alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Is a golf cart in these circumstances a “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA? Why or why not? [PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin, 532 U.S. 661, 121 S.Ct. 1879, 149 L.Ed.2d 904 (2001)]
The court ordered PGA to permit Martin to use a cart. PGA appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed the order of the lower court. PGA appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which affirmed the lower court’s decision, ruling that a golf cart is a reasonable accommodation for a disabled athlete. PGA argued that making an exception to its “walking” rule would “fundamentally alter the sport of golf.” The Supreme Court disagreed, stating that the “[u]se of a cart is not inconsistent with the fundamental character of the game of golf,” PGA’s tours, or the third stage of the Q-School. Golf is defined by “shot-making,” not by walking. The Court explained that the ADA is applied case by case. In other words, “[t]he needs of a disabled person [is] evaluated on an individual basis.” Thus, in this case, “[e]ven if petitioner’s factual predicate is accepted, its legal position is fatally flawed because its refusal to consider Martin’s personal circumstances in deciding whether to accommodate his disability runs counter to the ADA’s requirement that an individualized inquiry be conducted.”
First, read the Forum case provided in this session. Next, enter the Forum and give your opinion as to whether you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling in this case. If you were on the court, how would you have ruled? Has the game of golf been altered or equalized? Should ADA apply in this matter? Give your opinion and state reasons for your answer. Also, be sure to respond to someone in the Forum who disagrees with your position or comment on something that someone said that you found interesting.
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