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While going up and down the cable dial recently I came across a lawyer ad and just had to stop and listen to the pitch. The message was for people who were injured or harmed, looked at sideways and feel they’d been seriously wronged or damaged or just slightly annoyed and they can dial a telephone they might strike it rich in a nearby courtroom by suing somebody – ANYBODY!
Why not me, I thought? I can dial a telephone. And if I thought long and hard enough I'm sure I could remember someone or some shady corporate entity that crossed my path and did something to me, something that some slick, fast-talking television lawyer could work up into a multi-million dollar settlement.
I once heard of a case where someone had used a regular toolbox variety electric drill on his buddy who was suffering from a toothache. OK, yes, there were copious amounts of alcohol involved, if you must know, but what does that have to do with anything?
Anyway, the guy starts drilling away on his buddy's tooth and not having any idea what he was doing he managed to cause some serious damage to his buddy's mouth.
Enter a clever television lawyer who was glad to take the case. Before he was finished he strutted up and down in front of the jury box saying, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client here was only trying to help a friend in need of emergency dental work when he started drilling away with his handy electric drill. Now, you may ask if my client had any training in the field of oral surgery. The answer is: “No, he didn't.” But have you ever tried to get a hold of a dentist on a weekend?
"Some cynics may ask why my client used a carpenter's electric drill. Why wouldn't he? It said on the package that the drill had 1,001 uses. Why not tooth drilling? Did the drill manufacturer bother to put a label on his product to warn innocent people like my client that it was NOT intended for use as a dental drill? No sir, he did not."
When he was through and all the dust had settled the jury found the man innocent.The man and his buddy walked away with a $300,000 settlement check.
That's why if you pick up an electric drill in your nearby hardware store you'll now see a prominent label attached that reads: WARNING: Not intended for use as a dental drill. It should probably also say: WARNING: Do not use if you and your buddy have been drinking since breakfast yesterday.
While doing research for this story I came across some other warning labels caused by clever lawsuits. A box containing a 500-piece puzzle now has the label: Some assembly required.
Cans of hair spray now warn: Do not smoke until hair is dry.
The manufacturer of baby lotion was compelled to warn buyers: Keep away from children.
A package of AAA batteries advises: If swallowed see a doctor.
Then there's the story of the man in Pennsylvania who rented an authentic-looking Superman costume, put it on and then jumped out of his fifth-story bedroom, falling to his death.
The costume now has a label with the warning: “This garment will not enable you to fly.”
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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