Ridiculous Warnings and Frivolous Lawsuits

Have you ever read a warning sign and thought it seemed a bit ridiculous that it has to be there?

My personal favourite warning label comes from a superman costume. the warning says Use of This Device Does Not Enable Wearer To Fly. While I haven’t been able to find the exact legal case that required this label to be made it does spark my imagination. Who in their right mind would believe a costume would give them the ability of flight? Whatever happened to make the manufacturers decide they needed this warning is unknown. We can only assume that this label was the result of a very frivolous lawsuit.

The ludicrous lawsuit that launched it all was initiated by Stella Liebeck. Liebeck sued McDonald’s for $2.86 million dollars because their coffee was too hot. In 1992 the 79 year old retiree bought a 49c coffee from McDonald’s. While riding in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car, she tried to add sugar and cream to her coffee. She pulled the lid off and in doing so spilled the entire cup of coffee into her lap. Her cotton pants absorbed the liquid making it cling to her skin causing some serious burns. While this was terrible for poor Stella. I do need to question how she managed to spill the cups entire content on to her lap. As you may have guessed this lawsuit lead to the Caution Hot Liquid that is printed on the coffee cups.

The Ipod shuffle also had a wacky warning when it was first released. Do not eat Ipod shuffle. Now I’m unsure if this is Apple finally getting a sense of humour or perhaps the late great Steve Jobs had reached a whole new level of paranoia. There have been no records of anyone trying to eat their Apple product, but that doesn’t mean someone wouldn’t try if it could score them a quick million. Apple never commented if this was paranoia or pure parody, perhaps it’s a little bit of both.

Is it really the product that’s the problem here or is it the people using these products? Should we really be warning people that the hot coffee they just bought is hot? Where do we draw the line from sane safety advice to ludicrous labels for idiots? If you ask me I think we should remove the most ridiculous warnings and let nature take it’s course.


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