Given the ubiquitous use of the phrase "including, but not limited to," have courts ever actually upheld a misinterpretation of the English word "including" to instead mean "limited to?"

For example, a waiver could be written that "The business isn't responsible for injuries from animal bites, including bites from cats and dogs." Have there been upheld cases where someone, say, was bitten by a rabbit and the court upheld that the business didn't specify that the animal bites were not limited exclusively to cats and dogs?

  • In which country?
    – Polygnome
    Jul 6, 2020 at 7:23
  • Not entirely important to me that it be narrowed to US law, the more info, the better. Jul 7, 2020 at 5:02

2 Answers 2


Whether a case was actually lost because of using "including" without "but not limited to" is unknown.

What is known though is that courts have accepted arguments that "including" introduces an exhaustive list (which could result in the party that argued so winning):

But legal drafting isn’t served well by implications, as opposed to explicit denotations. It’s always subject to hostile misreadings by opposing parties who will argue that implications aren’t enough. And courts have been known to accept these arguments, as by holding that including can introduce an exhaustive list—a result that no competent drafter could have intended.


Short answer is: no. (Though can only speak regarding my country's case law) I am saying this based on the lack of such supreme court decisions in Turkey.

As long as you say "including" it will merely mean that the list is not exhaustive as another answer stated. the "but not limited to" will not change the Court's perspective on whether the list is indeed interpreted to be exhaustive or not. You can find more information on this page and the links given albeit from 2015: About "Including but not limited to" by Ken Adams

Using your example, even if the second half was not there, the phrase "The business isn't responsible for injuries from animal bites." would be valid and in court, the judge would interpret the case in front of him to be an animal or not. However, if somebody gets bitten by a creature that could be considered as an insect or animal(not sure if this is correct from a biological standpoint) for example, then the 'including X' part would become important.

Most of these phrases are worded that way to put emphasis on some more common or important cases and generally for more clarity. "not limited to" serves as a reminder to the parties that the list is not exhaustive and it is easier to negotiate with companies outside the court with such terms.

My native language is not English, however when I consider it in my won language we have exact same phrase... And I will have to say that I view this as a linguistic issue rather than legal at this point so here is another link: meaning of the phrase 'Including, but not limited to'

  • This is unconvincing. Nothing in the answer supports your assertion. Nothing explains how you know the answer is "no." Jul 6, 2020 at 14:31
  • Sure, I have edited as per your suggestions.
    – xyze
    Jul 8, 2020 at 2:03
  • Thanks, that's more complete. Jul 8, 2020 at 14:48

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