On July 22, 2012 an editorial in the Wall Street Journal entitled “The Tort Bar Burns On” was subtitled “A case in modern robbery: Targeting the red plastic gas can.” The next day, Fox Business published a piece entitled “Fueling Lawsuit Abuse,” in which John Stossel concluded that “more Americans will store gasoline in less convenient and much less safe containers.” The day after that, Norm Van Ness, the chief meteorologist at Toledo’s WNWO-TV, published a column entitled “Your big red gas can just got harder to find thanks to ‘consumer abuse.’”
At least Van Ness was honest enough to file his work under “Tort Reform,” since the story that these three articles and many more like them center around is the upcoming closing of the Miami, Oklahoma factory for Blitz USA. If you were to take the company at its word, it has been forced to close its doors on July 31 because of the cost of “frivolous lawsuits.” In numerous media outlets, Blitz has suggested that this litigation is the result of consumers pouring gasoline on open fires.
Unfortunately, much like the infamous 1994 hot coffee lawsuit Stella Liebeck filed against McDonald’s, business groups like the US Chamber of Commerce (USCC) are aggressively spinning the Blitz story into one where an innocent company has been bankrupted by dishonest, foolish consumers who were harmed only because of their own carelessness. As usual, there is a lot more to this story than the USCC wants people to know about.
The news program “Dan Rather Reports” first covered the Blitz lawsuits in 2008, and three years later, Rather spoke with a whistleblower who was laid off after 17 years at the Oklahoma factory. William Bailey told Rather that he refused a “generous pension package when he learned he would have to sign a confidentiality agreement.” He has testified that Blitz was cutting corners, citing consumers “misusing” the gas cans as being the cause for injuries and deaths. “The quality test forms were basically printed out with the results already recorded on them,” Bailey said.
As the video below from Rather’s 2008 report demonstrates, countless catastrophes could have been avoided if Blitz had simply installed a five-cent part called a “flame arrestor” (WARNING: Readers who may be uncomfortable viewing images of burn injuries should fast-forward this video to the 1:57 mark on the toolbar at the bottom of the player):
“The flame arrestor’s been proven,” Bailey told Rather. “They just need to figure out what type of flame arrestor will work on their can- or design their own flame arrestor and put it on the can. That just needs to start today.”
Insisting that all of these people hurt by Blitz gas cans were only injured because they poured gasoline onto an open flame is stunningly dishonest, and we will talk about why when we discuss one of these victims in our next post. Negligent companies need to be held accountable when they manufacture products that hurt consumers. You can learn more about burn injuries at our website, but you should know that you may be entitled to compensation if you have sustained serious injuries as a result of a defective or dangerous product. You can contact our firm at (513) 232-2000 or fill out the form on this page to let us review your case.
Moore Law Firm – Cincinnati injury attorneys