From: Armando D'Andrea - National Post - January 8, 2005:
A label that cautioned people not to use a toilet brush for personal hygiene has won a Windsor-area man first place and US$500 in a contest for outrageous product warning labels.
Detroit’s 104.3 WOMC radio audience chose 62-year-old Ed Gyetvai’s entry over a scooter label warning drivers that the product moves when used. A thermometer label advising people not to use it orally after rectal use was voted third. An electric hand blender with a warning that says “Never remove food or other items from the blades while the product is operating” placed fourth. Mr. Gyetvai, a retired teacher, submitted the label to the radio station after his wife brought the brush home last fall.
“It had a grain of significant truth to it, but at the same time you say, ‘Why would anyone use it for anything else than that?’ ” It’s the second time Mr Gyetvai has entered the contest. A couple of years ago, he submitted a label from a sunguard intended to block a car’s windshield that said “Please remove before driving.”
The contest, run by Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, underlies a serious purpose, said the not-forprofit organization’s president, Robert Dorigo Jones. It seeks to draw awareness to the growing problem of overlitigation in the United States, where Mr. Dorigo Jones says many of the 52,000 lawsuits pending in U.S. courts are frivolous.
“We have a system that allows legalized extortion,” he said yesterday. “It’s a strong term, but it’s a term that’s dead on. Lawyers know it and so does the general public. They can file a lawsuit and they do this repeatedly, hoping the person they sue will settle the case before it ever gets to a judge or jury.”
Mr. Dorigo Jones said contests like the Wacky Warning Label Contest are important because they can draw attention to this issue through humour. “Most of these warning labels exist because of fear of lawsuits.… Many people don’t understand that most of those warning labels are there because somebody sued or because the company is afraid to be sued,” he said. “And when the warnings border on common sense, we use that as a way to show just how far we have to go to protect ourselves. Our legal system is so unpredictable that a manufacturer doesn’t know if they get sued whether or not they’ll win or not. So they have to warn against everything.”
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