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Warning: Another Coffee Cup Maker Thinks Hot Coffee Is a Joke

More hot coffee warnings

A while back I posted a picture of a coffee cup, reportedly from Canada, that made fun of U.S. tort law and, indirectly, poor Stella Liebeck, the plaintiff in the infamous McDonald’s coffee spill.

Now Chris Fergus, a professor in Australia, sends along this photo showing another coffee cup maker having a grand old time with the case by including a warning on its cups stating, “Avoid Pouring on Crotch Area.”  I don’t speak French, but  can guess the French version amounts to something like “Don’t Pour It on

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Warning: Don’t Trip on the Banana Peel Caution Cone

banana peel warning cone

A student sent me this.  Not sure where it was taken, but gotta love it.  A much better attention-getter than the usual caution cones.

It raises the larger question of “Do people really slip on banana peels?”  Yes.  While slipping on a banana peel is a comedic cliché, it happens.

The famous Prosser, Wade & Schwartz Torts casebook contains a trilogy of cases involving plaintiffs who slipped on banana peels.  In keeping with the comedic tradition, our discussion of the cases ends with this question:  “Before we move on, what do the three banana cases all

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A Legal View of U2 — Pro Bono or No Bono?

Mark Purdy Bono Cartoon

Friend of and legal cartoonist Mark Purdy has penned a cartoon raising an intriguing question that has long puzzled lawyers and rock music lovers alike.  It’s purdy funny (ouch, sorry).  So what’s your answer, are you “Pro Bono” or “No Bono”?

Pro bono legal work are services rendered by lawyers without charge to low income clients or otherwise in furtherance of the public good.  (Pro bono comes from the Latin phrase pro bono publico, which means “for the public good.”)

Lawyers get a bad rap, but most non-lawyers probably do not realize that lawyers donate literally millions

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Spot the Tort: Parents Never Listen

Do not play on the dinosaur.

I count at least six kids climbing on this dinosaur, one about to climb on, and maybe more if the dinosaur extends to those kids at the back, all in contravention of the warning sign:

PARENTS: Do not let Children Play or Climb on top of Dinosaur

The warning is emphatic and seems pretty clear, although perhaps the kid inside the mouth could hire Suzy Spikes to make a persuasive textualist argument that she is not technically “on top” of the dinosaur.

Looks like they need a

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Warning: Guitar Strings Can Cause Death

Guitar Strings Are Dangerous

All guitar players have been painfully poked more than once by the sharp ends of the strings where they wrap around the tuners.  In the 1930s, Kluson marketed “SafeTiString” tuner posts where the string ends could be neatly tucked away in a slot in the posts to “banish the peril of injured, cut or bruised fingers.”

Neat invention, but apparently too late to save the poor woman pictured in this advertisement reprinted in Vintage Guitar magazine in the Feb. 2013 issue.  She appears to be bleeding to death.

Click to enlarge the thumbnail to appreciate her plight.

Spot the Tort: Tort-Spotting Friend of Lawhaha Keeping Floridians Safe

Dangerous Doorstop friend and South Florida resident Amy Holland is always on the look out to make the world a safer place.  Here’s her latest effort:

Here’s a good spot-the-tort photo for you.  We were at a liquor store, and as we were (separately) browsing the aisles, we each tripped over this object in the floor.  Thankfully, neither of us was seriously injured, but tripping and stubbing a toe on this thing sure does hurt!


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Spot the Tort: In Case of Emergency … Well, Maybe Not

Lift handset in case of emergency.

Long distance information, give me … ANYONE!

Can you spot the potentially tortious risk?

Contrary to Murphy’s Law, most things in life usually go right when it comes to risk and injury.  Except in Tortland where the worst that can happen always does.

Picture a guest with an emergency, maybe a heart attack or a criminal attack.  They reach for the emergency phone as instructed and … oops. No phone.

Easy fix: just take down the sign.  No legal duty exists to provide an emergency phone in most situations, but one can assume a duty under tort law that would not

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Children Sue Santa Claus; Jolly One Fights Back

Old Saint Nick

It’s the season to reprise those two holiday favorites from the Harmless Error vault:

Santa Suit –  The children of the world file a class action lawsuit seeking redress for perceived grievances against the man in the red suit.  (Caroline Kennedy selected this column for inclusion in her A Family Christmas anthology.)

Santa Strikes Back — Turns out the jolly one has his own issues about his Christmas job.  Mightily ticked off, he files his own lawsuit.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays from!

Warning: Video Spoof of Drug Maker Warnings

Under traditional tort law, drug manufacturers do not have a duty to warn consumers of the risks of their products. Rather, a doctrine called the “learned intermediary rule” holds that a drug maker fulfills its duty to warn by informing the physician of the risks associated with the drug. The idea is that the physician–the learned intermediary–is in the best position to weigh the risks and benefits of a particular drug for a particular patient.  Physicians also have a duty to pass on the material risks to the patient.

But in recent decades, pharmaceutical makers began what is

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“Captain Justice” Responds to the Government’s Motion to Not Be Called “the Government”

Lawyer Drew Justice, aka Captain Justice

Franklin, TN Lawyer Drew Justice, aka Captain Justice

This story has made the rounds but is worth repeating here if for no reason other than many of my current and former law students at the University of Memphis claim an association with Franklin, Tennessee lawyer Drew Justice, aka Captain Justice.

In a criminal case in which Mr. Justice represents the defendant, the government filed a motion in limine to prohibit the defense from referring to the prosecution as “the government,” asserting it was prejudicial.  Justice replied that such a ban would violate the first amendment, but went

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Plaintiffs Say “Boo!” to Haunted Halloween Tort Immunity

Randy Maniloff

Randy Maniloff explores Halloween tort cases.

Insurance expert, stand-up comic, and friend of, Randy Maniloff, penned an interesting article in his latest issue of Coverage Opinions about whether people who get frightened at Halloween haunted houses, with resulting injury, can sue.

He writes:

On any other evening, presenting a frightening or threatening visage might be a violation of a general duty not to scare others.  But on Halloween at trick-or-treat time, that duty is modified.  Our society encourages children to transform themselves into witches, demons, and ghosts, and play a game of threatening

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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Funny Law School Stories
For all its terror and tedium, law school can be a hilarious place. Everyone has a funny law school story. What’s your story?

Strange Judicial Opinions
Large collection of oddball and off-the-wall judicial opinions and orders.

Product Warning Labels
A variety of warning labels, some good, some silly and some just really odd. If you come encounter a funny or interesting product warning label, please send it along.

Tortman! Andrew J McClurg
Tortland collects interesting tort cases, warning labels, and photos of potential torts. Raise risk awareness. Play "Spot the Tort."

Weird Patents
Think it’s really hard to get a patent? Think again.

Legal Oddities
From the simply curious to the downright bizarre, a collection of amusing law-related artifacts.

Spot the Tort
Have fun and make the world a safer place. Send in pictures of dangerous conditions you stumble upon (figuratively only, we hope) out there in Tortland.

Legal Education
Collecting any and all amusing tidbits related to legal education.

Harmless Error
McClurg's twisted legal humor column ran for more than four years in the American Bar Association Journal.