Lawyers preparing soft-drink suit

“Richard Daynard, a Massachusetts law professor who made his name working as a consultant on class actions against tobacco companies, is part of a broad effort by both private attorneys and nonprofit groups to sue Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and other soft drink companies for selling high-calorie drinks in schools.” (Caroline Wilbert, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nov. 29; Caroline E. Mayer, “Lawyer coalition targets soft drink manufacturers”, Washington Post/Detroit News, Dec. 4; Todd Zywicki and vast comment section; Colossus of Rhodey). In the Boston Globe magazine, contributor Michael Blanding writes supportively of “a national legal movement to make soft drinks the next tobacco” (Oct. 30).

For more on the search for ways to blame business for our collective struggle with the waistline, see many entries in our Eat, Drink and Be Merry section. More on caffeine “addiction” theories: Aug. 18-20, 2000, Jun. 1, 2004. More on vending machine suits: Jul. 3, 2003. And as regular readers know, we’ve been covering Prof. Daynard’s activities for a long time; see Apr. 21-23, 2000 and many others.


  • I don’t know why you put addiction in quotes – that caffeine is addictive is beyond dispute. (I have definitive proof just in my own family, though not myself, thankfully.) Not that it’s something one could sue over, I would hope…?

    That’s just pathetic – could it be that people choose the drink with the higher caffeine content because they… want more caffeine to help them wake up? No, of course not…

  • I suspect the scare quotes reflected the legal theory, rather than the medical principle. Caffeine is addictive and it’s briefly unpleasant to cease using it, but it doesn’t sap one of free will such that manufacturers are committing fraud by selling products containing caffeine.

  • This just goes to show that Americans are “money-hungry”. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse in this “sue-happy” world, it does. People choose to drink sodas, it is not forced on them. Just like people choose to smoke. What’s next?

  • At least in the smoking trials, there was evidence that the tabacco companies had evidence of the harmful effects of smoking and deliberately withheld it from the public. I’m not saying that it makes all those suits reasonable, but it certainly adds some weight and affects public opinion. At least it involved some wrongdoing by somebody.

    Where’s the wrongdoing with caffeine? Can’t they sell caffeine PILLS over the counter to people?!? Kids even?

  • “Lines Are Drawn for Big Suit Over Sodas”

    The New York Times finally weighs in on the impending case against Big Soda (see Dec. 5). Maybe it took them longer than expected to get the spin in favor of the suit just right….

  • Overweight? Blame Coke and Pepsi

    I’ve got a piece in the new issue of the Manhattan Institute magazine City Journal examining the emerging barrage of obesity suits against soft drink companies (Walter Olson, “Taking Cola to Court”, City Journal, Winter)….