Are lawyers ruining all the fun?

by Fat Daddy, Esq. on July 6, 2009

Before law school I was able to have fun and enjoy life. After graduating and passing the bar I was a changed person. Fun was replaced by an accute awareness of risk and potential harm. So, being the risk averse person that I have become, the first thing I did to this site after getting it set up was to prepare a disclaimer. I am not your lawyer, I am not your doctor, don’t listen to the things I say, don’t do the things I do, etc. What is the purpose of a disclaimer? It is to try to protect yourself from lawyers.

One summer during my undergraduate days I went to Wal-Mart with my roomates to buy some cheap blinds for our house. The blinds came in a sleeve just big enough to hold the blinds when they were fully compressed. There was a picture on the box showing a window with blinds hanging in the window and in front of the window there was a small side table and an armchair. Below the picture were the words: FURNITURE NOT INCLUDED. This was before my law career, so I stood there looking at the picture and wondered who in the hell would be dumb enough to think that furniture was included in the box. The blinds cost $3.99. Were there people who actually believed that they would find a certificate included in the box entitling them to take delivery of the table and chair? Now my question is whether the disclaimer came after a lawsuit over the failure to include the furniture certificate or was suggested by an attorney to prevent such a lawsuit or was inserted by a manager who thought it should be included because everything else has disclaimers.

Recently I saw a commercial for Dannon yogurt that shows a woman slurping down a yogurt container in the grocery store and at the bottom of the screen it says “Please pay for all items.” This can go two ways. It is a fun, tongue-in-cheek disclaimer, or is it a serious reminder that shoplifting is bad?

It is sad that we have become such a litigious society that we require a disclaimer for everything. Gone are the days when a car commercial did not have to have a professional driver on a closed course, we could enjoy a beer commercial without being told to drink responsibly and it was okay for a commercial to have a dramatization without being identified as a dramatization with the additional caution to not attempt the act depicted.

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