Thursday, January 06, 2005


I saw this and I could not stop laughing at the top three winners. I think I'm going to make little warning labels for everything I own now:

on my pen: "WARNING: This product may leave permanent marks when used."
on my calculator: "CAUTION: This product may not calculate the correct answer if the user types in the wrong numbers."
on my cat: "This product eats stuff. DO NOT leave chicken being thawed for dinner unattended."
on my inbox at work: "CAUTION:Contents may cause boredom, frustration, and drowsiness. Do not use while operating heavy machinery."
on my plates: "May become soiled if you put food on it."
on me: "WARNING: This product WILL mercilessly make fun of you if you say something stupid."


daniel said...

lol. Love the scooter one. I mean, seriously, people are idiots. The darwin awards should work with these guys to produce labels. And you should enter, they'd rate the pen one based on the top three.

amberance said...

I concur, people are stupid. I think this started when that woman went to McDonald's and bought a coffee, which she held in her lap while driving and, surprise!, burned herself, then successfully sued McDonald's for not telling her the coffee was hot. Ummmm, you ordered COFFEE. Coffee is hot. Duh.

Eric said...

Amber sweetie, I agree that people are stupid, but I disagree with the use of the coffee-spill as an example.

The issue in that case was that McDonalds kept its coffee up to 20 degrees hotter than any similar restaurants and there had been numerous reports of people getting burned by their coffee (they settled many of them), but they chose to maintain the practice. The woman who filed the famed suit was 81, had never been involved in a law suit before, and only filed suit after McDonalds denied her request that they pay her medical bills (skin grafts, etc.). She knew the coffee was hot; she did not know it was going to be that hot.

The jury heard extensive evidence on how similar rest. prepared and stored their coffee. They decided that McDonalds' conduct was particularly bad, yet only awarded an amount equal to two days of McDonalds coffee sales.

Here are some exerpts from an article about the coffee-spilling story:

"At the beginning of the trial, jury foreman Jerry Goens says he "wasn't convinced as to why I needed to be there to settle a coffee spill."

At that point, Mr. Goens and the other jurors knew only the basic facts: that two years earlier, Stella Liebeck [81] had bought a 49-cent cup of coffee at the drive-in window of an Albuquerque McDonald's, and while removing the lid to add cream and sugar had spilled it, causing third-degree burns of the groin, inner thighs and buttocks. Her suit, filed in state court in Albuquerque, claimed the coffee was "defective" because it was so hot.

What the jury didn't realize initially was the severity of her burns. Told during the trial of Mrs. Liebeck's seven days in the hospital and her skin grafts, and shown gruesome photographs, jurors began taking the matter more seriously. "It made me come home and tell my wife and daughters don't drink coffee in the car, at least not hot," says juror Jack Elliott.

Even more eye-opening was the revelation that McDonald's had seen such injuries many times before. Company documents showed that in the past decade McDonald's had received at least 700 reports of coffee burns ranging from mild to third degree, and had settled claims arising from scalding injuries for more than $500,000.


When the panel reached the jury room, it swiftly arrived at the conclusion that McDonald's was liable. "The facts were so overwhelmingly against the company," says Ms. Farnham. "They were not taking care of their consumers."

Then the six men and six women decided on compensatory damages of $200,000, which they reduced to $160,000 after determining that 20% of the fault belonged with Mrs. Liebeck for spilling the coffee."

amberance said...

I hate having lawyer friends ;)

Anonymous said...

Well you wouldn't want the facts to get in the way of making someone look stupid.

amberance said...

No no no, it's just that he's SO thorough. It's kind cute actually. That was the longest comment on Earth. I stand very, very thoroughly corrected.

daniel said...

You may stand corrected.. but I gotta be honest with you... The legal system is outta hand.
I make this comment based on my legal system which is not as crazy as your legal system (example: we got told in second year criminal law class how some guy over there broke into a residence thru a roof and cut himself on something in the process (cant remember if it was the skylight or a knife in the kitchen etc) and successfully sued)
Now unless my law lecturer was a liar (definately possible) that is completely outta hand.
Our system is not fantastic either.. but the law classes i did seemed to tell me that there was not much justice in the justice system. But hey - that is just my extremely personal opinion. Flame on.
Coffee shouldn't have been at an unsafe level of temperature.. but how do you clarify what is unsafe? some people have much more tender and sensitive skin than others.. old people are like parchment... and if I were a more delicate flower than I am, I could well get a paper-cut from my movie ticket.. should I be able to sue for that? Nooo. Coffee is hot.. people burn themselves at home all the time, do they take themselves to court?
There has to be a limit.

Bleah. that was almost serious. not what I expected on the bizzybiz blog!!!!!

Tara said...

As another lawyer, I would just like to shout out an "AMEN" on the correction of the McDonalds story. That particular restaurant had been WARNED by the county Health Department on several occasions that their coffee was too hot to be safe. The punitive damages ($1m) was the profits that McDonalds makes on coffee every day. In the grand scheme of things, it was a drop in the bucket for ol' Mickey-D's. And while we may question this woman's taste in coffee, I think Eric is right that this is not an example of ridiculous litigation going on in the U.S. (like the recent Fear Factor lawsuit.)