In 1997, Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (M-LAW) began a contest to expose how frivolous lawsuits, and a concern about potential frivolous lawsuits, have led to a new cultural phenomenon: the wacky warning label.

You have probably heard about the lawsuit over a spilled cup of coffee. However, there are many other silly lawsuits involving products that have received far less attention. For example, did you know a man received $50,000 when he sued a small company that makes basketball nets because he claimed the company was responsible when he caught his teeth in a net while dunking a ball? People who make products hear about these outrageous lawsuits, and they often decide to slap common sense warnings on their product... “just in case.”

Over the years, M-LAW has received hundreds of warning labels from people around the world. M-LAW verifies the authenticity of each label and selects the “Top 5” for each year. Then, a radio audience selected the top three winners. The past four years, listeners of the award-winning Dick Purtan show on WOMC in Detroit have selected the winners.

The first place winner receives $500, second place gets $250 and third place receives $100.

Following is a list of some of the best labels from the first eight contests:

A label on a baby stroller warns: “Remove child before folding
A brass fishing lure with a three-pronged hook on the end warns: “Harmful if swallowed
A popular scooter for children warns: "This product moves when used."
A nine- by three-inch bag of air used as packing material cautions: "Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device."
A flushable toilet brush warns: "Do not use for personal hygiene."
The label on an electric hand blender promoted for use in "blending, whipping, chopping and dicing," warns: "Never remove food or other items from the blades while the product is operating."
A digital thermometer that can be used to take a person's temperature several different ways warns: "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."
A household iron warns users: “Never iron clothes while they are being worn”
A label on a hair dryer reads, “Never use hair dryer while sleeping”
A warning on an electric drill made for carpenters cautions: “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.”
The label on a bottle of drain cleaner warns: “If you do not understand, or cannot read, all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product.”
A smoke detector warns: “Do not use the Silence Feature in emergency situations. It will not extinguish a fire.”
A massage chair warns: “DO NOT use massage chair without clothing... and, Never force any body part into the backrest area while the rollers are moving.”
A cardboard car sunshield that keeps sun off the dashboard warns, “Do not drive with sunshield in place”
An “Aim-n-Flame” fireplace lighter cautions, “Do not use near fire, flame or sparks”
A label on a hand-held massager advises consumers not to use “while sleeping or unconscious”
A 12-inch rack for storing compact disks warns: “Do not use as a ladder.”
A cartridge for a laser printer warns, “Do not eat toner”
A 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow warns: “Not intended for highway use”
A can of self-defense pepper spray warns users: “May irritate eyes”
A warning on a pair of shin guards manufactured for bicyclists says: “Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover.”
A snowblower warns: “Do not use snowthrower on roof.”
A dishwasher carries this warning: “Do not allow children to play in the dishwasher.”
A popular manufactured fireplace log warns: “Caution - Risk of Fire”
A box of birthday cake candles says: “DO NOT use soft wax as ear plugs or for any other function that involves insertion into a body cavity.”

To enter the Wacky Warning Label Contest, click here.

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