Warning: No Scream Impressions or Diaperless Tots

In Torts, we were talking about product warning defects and, particularly, the warnings found on most plastic bags. These are warnings to adults to keep plastic bags away from babies, cribs, etc. because they present a suffication hazard. Using various bags as examples, we talked about the efficacy of such warnings in terms of size, placement and whether they needed to be in multiple languages. (We also discussed whether the risk is obvious, in which case there would be no duty to warn of it.)

This week a student brought me a plastic bag that attempted to solve the efficacy problems by omitting written warnings and relying solely on pictorial warnings. Did they succeed?  You be the judge.

Pictorial plastic bag warningFirst, we have this one. Here’s your test.

Question. This pictorial warning is intended to convey the following risk information:

(a) Keep plastic bags away from babies to prevent suffocation.

(b) Impressions of Edvard Munch’s The Scream are prohibited.

(c) Do not place large adult mitts around babies’ throats.

(d) This haz-mat suit does not work properly.

A is the correct answer.

This next one was on the same bag.

Question. This pictorial warning is intended to convey the following risk information:

Pictorial plastic bag warning(a) Keep plastic bags away from babies to prevent suffocation.

(b) Diapers required.

(c) Do not press pieces of toast against baby’s head.

(d) No balloon animals.

A is the correct answer.

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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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