When I mediate commercial cases that are referred to me by the court, they range the spectrum of topics and subject matter.  I’d say that in most of the cases I get, the parties have legitimate claims and defenses.  The disputes are a matter of a loss of communication between the parties or it is simply a disagreement over how to interpret something ambiguous.

In a response to what they feel are extortionist lawsuits, the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (M-LAW) has instituted an annual contest for the Wackiest Warning Labels.  This year’s winner is a label on a small tractor that warns: “Danger: Avoid Death”.  Second place was for a label found on an iron-on T-shirt transfer that warns: “Do not iron while wearing shirt.”  Third place was for a label on a baby-stroller featuring a small storage pouch that warns, “Do not put child in bag.”

Honorable mentions: a warning label on a letter opener that says: “Caution: Safety goggles recommended.”;  and a warning found on Vanishing Fabric Marker which cautions users:  “The Vanishing Fabric Marker should not be used as a writing instrument for signing checks or any legal documents.”

“Predatory lawyers know they can file ridiculous lawsuits against innocent product makers and blackmail them into cash settlements — even in cases in which a user has ignored common sense,” said M-LAW President Bob Dorigo Jones. “The real issue is not the obvious warning labels, but the billions of dollars in litigation costs passed on to consumers — a kind of a “lawsuit tax” we all pay. That is why M-LAW urges judges and policy makers to support civil justice reform.”

Those who oppose the contest said that while some warning labels may seem silly, even dumb warnings can save lives.  “Warning labels save lives, so it’s shameful that this group would make fun of them in order to further its campaign to weaken our civil justice system,” said Kathleen Flynn Peterson, president of the American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers group.

If you’re looking for someone to mediate and help resolve your lawsuit, please give me a call at 732-963-2299.