“Is Big Caffeine the Next Target?”

Tim Sandefur asks this only half-facetiously as he reviews mass torts. Of course, as a must-read comment letter to FASB (via the indispensable Beck/Herrmann) submitted by six pharmaceutical companies notes, “A mass tort occurs when the plaintiffs’ bar decides to invest in it.”


  • There has been an underlying news trend discussing how caffeine can act as a drying agent to the cartilage in joints, thus causing arthritis. It will not be surprising if coffee outlets such as Starbucks are treated like Big Tobacco in the near future.

  • Every other week, it seems, there’s a ‘scientific report’ noted in the media about how coffee and/or caffeine is good for you. Alternate weeks, the story is that it’s bad for you.

    With so much incomplete science being reported, there’s more than enough room to drive an ambitious lawsuit through it. Just pick the point you want to make, find a sympathetic ‘victim’, then wale on the jury’s emotions. Find a politician or two in need of cash to sponsor some benighted legislation and hey, presto!

    Caffeine becomes some exudate of Satan, corporations are bankrupted by frivolous suits, and a huge chunk of the population has yet another reason to hate the lawyers and disrespect the law.

    Oh, and don’t forget those poor attorneys now burdened with worries about the upkeep of the yacht, condo in Cannes, the jet and annually-updated Mercedes. Poor buggers.

  • I remember Marge Simpson took on “Big Sugar” in an episode of The Simpsons. Parody, right?

  • I was in an attorney’s office once and was offered a cup of coffee, which I accepted, unaware of the risk to which I was being subjected. And this same attorney was part of a larger accrediting organization consisting of many other attorneys, each of whom did *nothing* to prevent this! Hmmmm.

  • From the article: “a self-righteous lawyer with a perverse sense of ‘responsibility'”

    Wrong: A self-righteous lawyer who has a sense of knowing where the money is, just like Willie Sutton.