The Wall Street Journal news-section A-hed tackles silly (sometimes deliberately so) disclaimers, such as IKEA’s gigantic sign portraying a hot dog with the disclaimer “*not actual size.” But it also notes the high costs that litigation or regulatory action can inflict when disclaimers are omitted. Our readers discussed the Red Bull case two years ago.
I am going to take a wild guess that the suit is aimed at exciting class-action fees [NY Post; @barbararich_law ("A Carbolic Smoke Ball for the Sex and the City generation")]
It’s especially important to act quickly if you’ve been killed. (Fugly.com; seen via George Takei, and making the rounds on the internet).
Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) has introduced a bill, the “Childrens Firearms Marketing Safety Act,” that would restrict the content of gun advertising, ostensibly on the grounds of protecting children. Eugene Volokh analyzes its terms and doubts that they make much sense unless one assumes that the purpose of the bill is “is to reduce as much as possible parentally approved gun use by minors. And of course the effect of the law, if it would be at all effective, would thus be to reduce the number of children who grow up familiar with guns and open to gun ownership — thus making broader gun controls easier in the future.”
Federal false-advertising law allows competitors (not just consumers claiming loss) to sue companies over allegedly false or unsubstantiated ad claims. Long-established result that will surprise only newcomers: big guys use the law to beat up little guys, as well as each other. “In March, a Supreme Court ruling widened the range of businesses that can sue other companies for false advertising under the federal Lanham Act, by allowing businesses that aren’t direct competitors to pursue claims.” [WSJ via Lexology]
“A woman using a Grand Central Terminal stairwell fell and broke her ankle last year because a spooky advertisement for the [Showtime serial-killer] series startled her, a new lawsuit charges. Ajanaffy Njewadda and her husband, a former Gambian ambassador, are suing the MTA and the cable network, accusing them of placing the ad in a dangerous spot for pedestrians.” [James Fanelli, DNAInfo New York]
Nor, the complaint adds triumphantly, is Chobani yogurt even “made by Greek nationals.” It’s made in New York! Also, it’s too sweet and not very natural. [ABA Journal]
“Law firm apologizes to truckers for ‘serial killer’ ad” [ABA Journal] The San Antonio law firm of Villarreal & Begum had placed the ad in Maxim, but the reaction from truckers was so negative that some sellers yanked the magazine off the stands.
Will China follow the U.S. lead in consumer litigation? The lawsuit’s target, or one of its targets, is former NBA star Yao Ming, who is said to have endorsed fish oil capsules whose benefits were exaggerated. [China Daily via Tyler Cowen]
“From a realtor: ‘Regarding the Metro, I never putting “walk to..” on my listings because when I took my GRI classes they warned us that “walk to” might trigger a complaint of discrimination against people with disabilities.’ Sigh…” — David Bernstein, law professor and author of “You Can’t Say That! The Threat To Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws”
“Even pictures of food [at schools] have to have the federal government’s stamp of approval.” [Scott Shackford, Reason]
P.S. Speaking of marketing and paternalism, here’s Ann Althouse on the latest horrible Mark Bittman column.
“… The FTC regulating it” [Jack Shafer, Reuters]
Jack Shafer has a few thoughts:
Schneiderman mustn’t neglect the product endorsement industry. Do those celebrity endorsers really love the product or service as much as they say they do? … Fake reviews on Yelp, properly considered, are Yelp’s problem, not the state of New York’s. Let the Yelp people clean up the sewer. And the attorney general? Aren’t there any genuine crimes in the state for him to investigate?
That was the title of the talk I gave Friday at a panel on food and product labeling law as part of a stimulating symposium put on by the Vermont Law Review at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vt. I drew on a number of different sources, but especially two relatively recent articles: Omri Ben-Shahar and Curt Schneider, “The Failure of Mandated Disclosure,” U. Penn. Law Review (2011), and Kesten C. Green and J. Scott Armstrong, “Evidence on the Effects of Mandatory Disclaimers in Advertising”, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Fall 2012. I was able to bring in examples ranging from patent marking law to Prop 65 in California to pharmaceutical patient package inserts, as well as the durable phenomenon of labels, disclosures, and disclaimers going unread even by very sophisticated consumers.
My talk was well received, and I think I might adapt and expand it in future into a full-length speech for audiences on failures of consumer protection law.