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Blitz USA Faulty Gas Cans – Where Does The Fault Lie?

Blitz USA faulty gas can

Blitz USA faulty gas can

After 50 years of operation, Blitz USA, America’s largest plastic gas-can manufacturer, closed its doors in Miami, Oklahoma.  117 employees were laid off in the process.

While plant closings and lay-offs are not uncommon in our current economy, the peculiar thing about this specific plant is its reason for closing.  Rather than lack of demand or products product manufacturing being outsourced to other countries, Blitz USA claims the plant was closed for a different reason.

According to Page One, the company puts the blame on lawsuits against them, saying:

The article goes on to say that the, “litigation”  stemmed from more than 75 known incidents of people severely burned or killed when a Blitz gas can exploded. Fourteen people were burned to death, six of them children. With millions of these gas cans still in use around the country, the injuries and deaths are expected to continue. While the company faced overwhelming negative test results about the defects in the cans, they chose to ignore them and move forward with manufacturing them as they were, rather than amending the problematic design.

Christopher Scholl, from the American Association of Justice says the following:

While the legal team in this dispute blames Blitz for not taking the necessary steps to perfect their product, business lobbiests blame consumers and come to the company’s defense, claiming this case to be similar to the McDonald’s Hot Coffee case.  According to one business lobbyist, the hazards associated with gas can injuries most directly reflect the consumers’ “stupid decisions” and “simple misuse of the product” rather than any problems with the manufacturing of the cans.

The Southeast Texas Record (owned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “tort reform” advocacy group, Institute for Legal Reform, said this:

The Wall Street Journal also chimed in on the topic, stating that, “they could sue Blitz when someone poured gas on a fire (for instance, to rekindle the flame) and the can exploded, alleging that the explosion is the result of defects in the can’s design as opposed to simple misuse of the product….stories like this cry out for a bipartisan offensive against these destructive raids that loot law-abiding companies merely because our insane tort laws make them vulnerable.” At the end of the day, the business community wants to make a case about how litigious consumers misuse products and blame injuries on product error, while the legal community encourages companies like Blitz to fix product defects to prevent injuries from happening in the first place.  All things considered, some of the noted injuries had nothing to do with human error or misuse of the product, yet in the end, people still were injured.

At the end of the article, Page One concludes, “But Blitz USA is far from the innocent corporate bystander it claims to be,” and ends with a quote from the AAJ’s Christopher Scholl: