Warning Label: “Lawyers Who Take This Case Risk Being Mocked And Ridiculed For The Rest Of Their Lives, As Well As Being Investigated By Their Bar Associations” [Corrected]

In Louisiana, African-American Tessica Brown ran out of her usual hair spray styling product last month, so she thought and thought about what to use instead (I’m just speculating here). Tapioca? Laundry detergent pods? Kerosene? Battery acid? The ashes of her beloved cat? No, no, none of that seemed right. “Eureka!” Tessica suddenly exclaimed. Of course! It’s obvious! Gorilla Glue adhesive spray!”

And so she did.

Guess what happened. Yes, yes, I know it’s hard, but just for fun. Guess.

As she revealed in a now viral video she posted on social media, the glue stuck to her hair and scalp! Who could have predicted that! A local hospital tried to remove the clue using acetatee, but that just burned her scalp.

On Wednesday, Tessica went to Los Angeles to meet with Dr. Michael Obeng, a plastic surgeon, who has offered his services for free because it will great marketing for all of the other women disfigured from putting Gorilla Glue on their hair. I’m sure there must be..well, there might be another one. Maybe.

Since the video is being viewed by so many, the makers of Gorilla Glue felt it was prudent to put out this statement:

We are aware of the situation and we are very sorry to hear about the unfortunate incident that Miss Brown experienced using our Spray Adhesive on her hair. This is a unique situation because this product is not indicated for use in or on hair as it is considered permanent. Our spray adhesive states in the warning label ‘do not swallow. Do not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing …”

It is used for craft, home, auto, or office projects to mount things to surfaces such as paper, cardboard, wood, laminate, and fabric.

We are glad to see in her recent video that Miss Brown has received treatment from her local medical facility and wish her the best.

That’s nice. Tessica needs such good wishes, since navigating through life will not be easy for a woman who is prone to getting ideas like,”It’s time to put Gorilla Glue on my head.”

Tessica says she is “considering” a lawsuit. The translation: “Maybe the company will offer me some money just to avoid the hassle of a nuisance suit.” I wouldn’t hold my breath. The statement is a pretty clear indication that the company will not open the floodgates for spurious suits from everyone who comes up with a stupid misuse of its product that isn’t specifically warned against on the packaging.

A lawyer named Exavier Pope weighed in with this tweet:

At first I thought Pope was a desperate attorney angling for work, but apparently not: he is has a sports law practice and does some personal injury work, and was trying to get some publicity for his firm, which it did, not all of it welcome. He asserted that the company is liable, but it is doubtful he believes that, or that the company will be held responsible. He could take Tessica’s case pro bono, and if he really thought such a case was winnable, he would. She is, however, all sarcasm aside, an idiot, and the use of the label “glue” should be legally sufficient notice to warn any consumer that you don’t put it on your hair. The product’s warning also doesn’t expressly say not to put it up your nose or in your ears. Gorilla Glue is not accountable, and will not, in all likelihood, be held accountable. Tessica is accountable, along with her parents, the educational system, and whoever handed out the brains before the stork delivered her.

I visited Exavier’s website. His firm’s page describes itself as “world class” and says it has “top industry experiences.” It also refers to “our office.” As far as I can see, Pope is a solo practitioner. “Our” is deceptive, and attorneys have been disciplined for such wording. The majority of jurisdictions, including Illinois, also prohibit law firm websites from making claims that cannot be verified objectively, like “world class” and “top.” Maybe Illinois is lenient about this kind of thing : I still advise clients to avoid such puffery.

Pope now has a more nuanced statement about Tessica’s prospects on his website:

That’s a lot better than his tweet, though it’s still obnoxious. It also has a lot of typos, which does not bode well for potential clients. He is correct that law suits by idiots sometimes succeed, because you never know what a persuasive lawyer can talk a jury into. This is why the legal ethics rule against “frivolous law suits” (Rule 3.1) is so seldom enforced , and probably wouldn’t be in this instance. That doesn’t mean that some lawyers—like me— wouldn’t file a complaint in good faith against a lawyer who took Tessica’s case for abusing the system and embarrassing the profession.

The statement is riddled with almost as many rationalizations as typos, like “everybody does it” and “it is what it is.” It’s also wrong: it’s not a “societal good” to hold companies accountable for the inexcusable stupidity and recklessness of individuals, or to send the message that the individual responsible for her own fate should be able to shift blame to a deep pockets defendant. Of course, Pope’s claim is the official position of trial lawyers, who I worked closely with in their association for seven lively years. I won’t blame Exavier for repeating the standard line, but it is still wrong.

But you’ll notice that he isn’t taking the case.

28 thoughts on “Warning Label: “Lawyers Who Take This Case Risk Being Mocked And Ridiculed For The Rest Of Their Lives, As Well As Being Investigated By Their Bar Associations” [Corrected]

  1. I once saw a warning label on a stroller …”Remove baby before folding stroller.”. When I mentioned the absurdity of that to attorney friend, he quickly quipped..”It’s there because someone tried to do that…and complained they weren’t warned….”. Sigh.

  2. I think I found Exavier’s playing the race card most offensive. It’s the old, “I have difficult hair” excuse the Clintonistas used to defend Bill’s getting a two hundred dollar hair cut on a runway at LAX. Of course, he was the first black president.

    And great first name there, Exavier. Somebody in the family must have been a Xavier Cugat fan?

  3. She is, however, all sarcasm aside, an idiot, and the use of the label “glue” should be legally sufficient notice to warn any consumer that you don’t put it on your hair.

    But gorillas are literally covered in hair. And it’s called Gorilla Glue. I rest my case.
    /sarcasm off

  4. This makes no sense. I use Gorilla Glue for model assembly and household repairs. One tiny bead holds the steel blade of a model soldier’s sword to the sculpted hilt for life. One very thin layer bonds a broken limb back onto a cement garden statue, where it’s still holding like a champ after 4 years. But don’t get it on your fingers, or you won’t get them apart without a razor blade. It was never intended as anything other than an adhesive for non-living materials. Anyone who uses it on their hair is a candidate to be cast with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in the planned sequel “Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest.”

    • Re: don’t get it stuck on your skin, it’s my understanding it’s used medically instead of sutures to seal certain surgical wounds.

  5. It may be splitting hairs (hah!) but all of the harm was done by the glue that touched her skin, as warned against by the manufacturer. The glue that stayed in her actual hair caused no harm at all, beside the need for a haircut.

  6. At least she didn’t put it on her hoo-ha as a birth or period control method.

    Usually, one must go to a non-English speaking pygmy tribe in the depths of the Amazon basin to find somebody foolish enough to do something like this. Usually.

    Of course, the attorney is the archetype of why personal injury attorneys have such a lousy reputation.

  7. Well Jack, at a minimum you’ve learned you cannot glue your own hair back on with Gorilla Glue!

    Maybe Gorilla has a new slogan now: “Gorilla glue, you’ll never part with it”

  8. I don’t wish to imagine the kinds of accidents –and lawsuits– that occur at the Gorilla Glue manufacturing facility. Bet there are a lot of interesting stories (and cases). It is truly quite a product. Ever used Gorilla tape? Would work great to shut up the mouths of obnoxious politicians. Maybe the only thing that would work?

  9. I have to say, I had no idea it comes in an aerosol can. Honestly, having worked now and then with super glue, I find the idea of spraying the stuff around a little terrifying. Man, they must have instances of people getting it in all sorts of bad places. Eyes, etc. Just from sloppy use.

    • Frankly, if I were inhouse at Gorilla Glue, I wouldn’t have been in favor of selling it in aerosol cans. But I’m a worry wort.

    • Just so you know, the chemical composition of Gorilla Glue spray is not the same as normal Gorilla Glue. Also, neither Gorilla Glue or the spray glue they make is cyanoacrylate (i.e. “Super Glue”). So you need not fear the horror of using the spray and finding your fingers or eyelids stuck together from overspray unless you deliberately spray them and leave them together for quite some time. The spray product takes 24 hours to fully cure, where cyanoacrylate cures to a high level in just a few minutes.

      The normal Gorilla Glue is a polyurethane product which is quite a bit different from cyanoacrylate. For one thing, Gorilla Glue expands to fill voids, and if you use too much, you’ll see excess form along the edge of the joint. Super glue does not expand at all.

      Gorilla Glue company does make a cyanoacrylate product which it markets as “Gorilla Super Glue.”

  10. It seems to me that the behavior of a Black woman using Gorilla glue for her hair flies in the face of all those triggered when any reference to apes is suggested. Does she not see she is validating a negative stereotype or is any reference to apes not really as much of an insensitive remark as so many claim it to be; it is just merely convenient.

  11. If I provided PR for Gorilla Glue, I would ask their attorneys to preemptively offer to cover Miss Brown’s reasonable attorney costs while not precluding further legal action on her part. (Perhaps that could be structured as some sort of preliminary out-of-court settlement.) In return, I would request only two things: that their filing emphasize how resilient and effective our adhesive was, and that we get to release portions of the court transcript to the public. Make that idiot an advertising icon!

  12. On the subject of liability disclaimers, perhaps the most ridiculous is the recent Allstate commercial that shows a pair of astronauts driving a lunar rover around on the moon. When they jump the rover off a crater rim, the on-screen fine print says, “Do Not Attempt”.

    It *should* say, “Do Not Attempt, Elon”, because who the hell else is going to be able to replicate such a stunt?

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