Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You Have Been Warned


In 1997, Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (M-LAW) began a contest to expose how frivolous lawsuits, and a concern about potential frivolous lawsuits, have led to a new cultural phenomenon: the wacky warning label.

You have probably heard about the lawsuit over a spilled cup of coffee. However, there are many other silly lawsuits involving products that have received far less attention. For example, did you know a man received $50,000 when he sued a small company that makes basketball nets because he claimed the company was responsible when he caught his teeth in a net while dunking a ball? People who make products hear about these outrageous lawsuits, and they often decide to slap common sense warnings on their product... “just in case.”

Following is a list of some of the best labels from the first eight contests:
  • The label on a bottle of drain cleaner warns: “If you do not understand, or cannot read, all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product.”
  • A label on a baby stroller warns: “Remove child before folding.”
  • A brass fishing lure with a three-pronged hook on the end warns: “Harmful if swallowed.”
  • A popular scooter for children warns: “This product moves when used.”
  • A flushable toilet brush warns: “Do not use for personal hygiene.”
  • A digital thermometer that can be used to take a person's temperature several different ways warns: “Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally.”
  • A household iron warns users: “Never iron clothes while they are being worn.”
  • A warning on an electric drill made for carpenters cautions: “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.”
  • A smoke detector warns: “Do not use the Silence Feature in emergency situations. It will not extinguish a fire.”
  • A cardboard car sunshield that keeps sun off the dashboard warns: “Do not drive with sunshield in place.”
  • An “Aim-n-Flame” fireplace lighter cautions: “Do not use near fire, flame or sparks.”
  • A cartridge for a laser printer warns: “Do not eat toner.”
  • A can of self-defense pepper spray warns users: “May irritate eyes.”
  • A warning on a pair of shin guards manufactured for bicyclists says: “Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover.”
  • A popular manufactured fireplace log warns: “Caution - Risk of Fire.”

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