Wacky Warning winners

NOVI, Mich. (AP) - If only fish could read.

A warning label on a fishing lure that sports three steel hooks advises the lure is "Harmful if swallowed."

The label took fourth place in the seventh annual Wacky Warning Label Contest. But organizers of the contest, the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, said it highlights the lengths to which manufacturers will go in order to avoid lawsuits stemming from misuse of consumer products. "Wacky warning labels are a sign of our lawsuit-plagued times," said Robert Dorigo Jones, president of M-LAW, a non-profit group working to raise public awareness of how the explosion in litigation is harming the country.

"It used to be that if someone spilled coffee in their lap, they simply called themselves clumsy. Today, too many people are calling themselves an attorney."

The recently announced winning labels in this year's contest were selected from a list of M-LAW finalists by listeners of the Dick Purtan show on Detroit-area radio station WOMC-FM.

Taking first prize was a warning found on a bottle of drain cleaner. The label, submitted by Robert Brocone of Euclid, Ohio, reads: "If you do not understand, or cannot read, all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product."

That label earned Brocone a $500 prize and a copy of the book, The Death of Common Sense, by Philip Howard, chairman of the legal reform group, Common Good.

The $250 second prize went to Alexander Tabarrok of Fairfax, Va., who sent in a label on a snow sled that advises users: "Beware: sled may develop high speed under certain snow conditions."

Securing the third-place slot was a label on a compact-disc storage rack that warns: "Do not use as a ladder."

That warning earned Bob Skovronek, of Northville, a $100 prize.

"This 'sue first, ask questions later' mentality has not only produced wacky warning labels, it has increased the cost of products and services families use daily," Jones said.

Story from CNEWS