Source: Bob Dorigo Jones

When I started the Wacky Warning Labels™ Contest 17 years ago, I wanted to showcase the lengths to which companies feel they must go to avoid the lawsuit-happy culture that is unique to America. Fast-forward to this year’s Contest, and the “winners” are crazier than ever. As the Contest creator and Senior Fellow for Center for America, which sponsors the Contest, I point out that each year, new and ever-costlier symptoms of the plague of abusive lawsuits on our economy and way of life find their way to the public’s eye. This year, we noticed a new trend in labels and, by extension, lawsuits and lawsuit prevention by foreign companies doing business in the U.S.

In the past, warning labels like the one on a fishing lure that advised: “Harmful if swallowed,” and the baby stroller that cautioned: “Remove child before folding” dominated the contest. However, those warnings almost sound logical compared to the winner of our 2014 contest.

This year, the wackiest warning label in America as selected by the audience of a national television show was found on a cell phone battery booster. It warns: “Get rid of children.”

Huh?

The audience selected that label over several others in our contest including a sheet of peel and stick decals that warns: “Decals are for decoration only and will not protect you from bodily harm or injury,” and a warning on a printer ink toner cartridge that says: “Do not drink.”

We find these silly warning labels on products sold throughout America because, in this era of excessive litigation, labels must do more than protect consumers from possible injuries, they have to protect product makers from frivolous lawsuits. In recent years, more and more judges have been willing to overlook personal responsibility in injury lawsuits and force job providers to defend themselves against lawsuits by people who ignored common sense and sued anyway.

Like the guy who used a wood router to perform dental work on himself. When he didn’t like the results, he sued the manufacturer. That lawsuit led to a warning that says: “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.” Really.


Bob Jones

Bob Dorigo Jones is senior fellow at the Center for America, creator of the annual Wacky Warning Labels™ Contest, and the bestselling author of "Remove Child Before Folding: The 101 Stupidest, Silliest and Wackiest Warning Labels Ever."