An electric razor for men that warns “Never use while sleeping.” Sent in by Dave Woehrer, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
A 7-inch decorative globe that comes with the warning: “These globes should not be referred to for navigation.” Sent in by Kelly Watson, Winona, Texas
A “Laptop Steering Wheel Desk” that cautions: “Never use this product while driving.” Sent in by Anne Readett, Okemos, Michigan.
A Neck Pillow made for children that warns: “Keep product away from infants and children.” Sent in by Noelle McDonald, San Jose, California.
An electric skillet that warns: “Caution: griddle surface may be hot during and after cooking.” Sent in by Jason Ellis, Fowlerville, Michigan.
I started this contest, now sponsored by the Center for America to reveal the extraordinary lengths to which manufacturers who sell products in the United States must go to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits – and to start a national conversation about the need for reform.
In the days and weeks ahead, that conversation will intensify as word of the latest wacky warning labels spreads, and we will be talking about these labels on radio shows, on television and in various publications, blogs and websites. One thing people have said since the first year we did this is that these warnings are so crazy they don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I agree completely. However, there is something new that we’ve been hearing lately that I would like to focus on this year.
Now, more and more people aren’t laughing about the warnings…they’re becoming so alarmed by warning labels that they’re not using the products they bought.
Here’s an example. One woman told me her mother bought several heating pads and later returned all of them to the store because each one warned: “Caution, Risk of fire.” She was genuinely concerned that her house might burn down because the heating pads would ignite a fire. Silly? Perhaps, but it happens more often than we may think. We also hear more serious stories from people who haven’t used medicine prescribed by their doctor because of alarming warnings on the packaging.
In too many costly instances nowadays, consumers are choosing to avoid potential risk despite the fact that the products they purchased could make life better and safer.
That is a travesty, and it can be traced directly to the climate of fear that our courts have fostered by refusing to dismiss frivolous lawsuits in too many cases. There are now so many costly lawsuits in the U.S. that the Pacific Research Institute has calculated that Americans would save $589 billion every year if our tort costs were simply comparable in size with other industrialized countries.
It’s time for America to get serious about ending lawsuit abuse that makes common sense warning labels necessary. To learn more about how much lawsuit abuse costs consumers and to see photos of all the products in this year’s wacky warning label contest, click here.