Illinois Civil Justice League: July 2005

July 27, 2005

Warning Labels: Soda

IlliniPundit questions the Center for Science in the Public Interest's move to require warning labels on soda cans. In the petition the CSPI presented the FDA, the group suggests the warning label would include the following:
  • The U.S. Government recommends that you drink less (non-diet) soda to help prevent weight gain, tooth decay, and other health problems.
  • To help protect your waistline and your teeth, consider drinking diet sodas or water.
  • Drinking soft drinks instead of milk or calcium-fortified beverages may increase your risk of brittle bones (osteoporosis).
IlliniPundit states: "First, the nanny-staters want warning labels. Second, they push for restrictions on consumption. Third, a total ban. Because some behaviors are just too tempting and too dangerous, and they don’t trust people to make decisions for themselves."

However, the missing fourth element might read:

Fourth, the nanny-staters will then work with powerful plaintiffs lawyers to eliminate or bankrupt the manufacturer.

This is the case in so many different products, from ladders to football helmets to cheeseburgers.

Most warning labels are the result of frivolous lawsuits, though. Consider these Wacky Warning Labels, presented by the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, that undoubtedly are the result of litigation or the fear of litigation:
  • A flushable toilet brush that warns users: "Do not use for personal hygiene."
  • A popular scooter for children that warns: "This product moves when used."
  • 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."
  • An electric hand blender promoted for use in "blending, whipping, chopping and dicing," that warns: "Never remove food or other items from the blades while the product is operating."
  • A nine- by three-inch bag of air used as packing material that carries this warning: "Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device."
M-LAW's Robert Dorigo Jones adds: "Warning labels are a sign of our lawsuit-plagued times. From the moment we raise our head in the morning off pillows that bear those famous 'Do Not Remove' warnings, to when we drop back in bed at night, we are overwhelmed with warnings. Plaintiff’s lawyers who file the lawsuits that prompt these warnings argue they are making us safer, but the warnings have become so long that few of us read them anymore-- even the ones we should read."

Maybe what we really need is a warning label on lawyers:

Warning: The actions you and your lawyer take in our public court system will have a dramatic effect on economic and personal freedoms you and your neighbors currently enjoy. Proceed with caution, future legal precedents will raise the price of goods and services, diminish your ability to access quality products and healthcare, and restrict your right to participate in many worthwhile activities.

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© 2005 Illinois Civil Justice League