Product Warnings: Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You!

Product Warnings: Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You!


As a lawyer, it’s not easy for me to admit that my profession is to blame for a certain amount of defensive commercial overreaction; in other words, the FOGS (“Fear of Getting Sued”). With simply too many frivolous lawsuits abounding, manufacturers and commercial ventures of all types trip over themselves to place “warnings” on their products in the vain hope of forestalling litigation. Two problems spring to mind, however: (1) the “warnings” are of no real legal merit, and (2) they can make you look stupid. Here are some examples, and see if you don’t agree.

◦   “Do not eat toner.” — On a toner cartridge for a laser printer.

◦   “Not intended for highway use.” — On a 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow.

◦   “This product is not to be used in bathrooms.” — On a Holmes bathroom heater.

◦   “May irritate eyes.” — On a can of self-defense pepper spray.

◦   “Eating rocks may lead to broken teeth.” — On a novelty rock garden set called “Popcorn Rock.”

◦   “Caution! Contents hot!” — On a Domino’s Pizza box.

◦   “Caution: Hot beverages are hot!” — On a coffee cup.

◦   “Caution: Shoots rubber bands.” — On a product called “Rubber Band Shooter.”

◦   “Warning: May contain small parts.” — On a frisbee.

◦   “Do not use orally.” — On a toilet bowl cleaning brush.

◦   “Please keep out of children.” — On a butcher knife.

◦   “Not suitable for children aged 36 months or less.” — On a birthday card for a 1 year old

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