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Oklahoma Company's Negligence Being Used to Push Tort Reform

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This KOAM-TV segment (clicking on the image above opens the video in a new window) from July 18, 2012, discusses the “documentary” that was recently filmed at a factory in Miami, Oklahoma, for the US Chamber of Commerce’s (USCC) “Faces of Lawsuit Abuse” website. Blitz USA had been producing gas cans for nearly a half-century, but now the factory’s 117 employees have lost their jobs because “frivolous lawsuits” filed by “individuals pouring gasoline onto a fire” forced the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June before finally closing this past Monday. “Hard to imagine some people don’t understand the dangers of mixing gasoline and fire,” KOAM anchor Dowe Quick says at the end of the segment.

That sort of dismissive remark exemplifies exactly how the USCC wants this story to be perceived by the public. The whole truth, however, paints an entirely different picture. Much like the way media outlets spun Stella Liebeck’s 1994 hot coffee lawsuit against McDonald’s into the fast food franchise being the victim of a greedy plaintiff who was the victim of her own stupidity, Blitz and the USCC are furthering a narrative in which dishonest, foolish consumers are making millions at the expense of an honest company.

Last year, former Blitz quality control officer William Bailey told the news program “Dan Rather Reports” that the company was well aware of safety issues with their products. “The attitude was always get the product out the door,” Bailey said. “I mean, there was not—no focus on quality. You know they were more money driven and numbers driven.”

Furthermore, Bailey said the company shredded documents on a regular basis, and Rather reported that a Texas court reprimanded Blitz last year for “various discovery violations and “failure to disclose documents” in one lawsuit. Blitz continually blamed consumer injuries on people “misusing” their cans. Bailey told Rather that philosophy was “B.S.” Moreover, many gas can accidents and explosions could have prevented with the a roughly five-cent piece of wire mesh called a flame arrestor. Bottles of the over-proof rum Bacardi 151, for instance, come equipped with flame arrestors to prevent the highly flammable liquid from igniting when the bottle is being poured on a flaming dish.

Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking stories involving a Blitz gas can stems from a September 2010 incident in Lennox Township, Michigan. According to Rather Reports, authorities claimed 6-year-old Aliaa Al-Shara burned to death because her father, Majd, had doused her with gasoline. He claimed it was an accident and the Blitz USA gas can had exploded when he was trying to get a fire going in his fire pit. He spent months in prison before his attorneys appealed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

According to Rather, the ATF’s final report concluded “it was possible for a two gallon gasoline container ‘…to produce a flame jet from the open mouth of the container…’ and that the force of the combustion inside the can was ‘…capable of propelling ignited liquid out of the gasoline container and depositing it on a person..’ four feet away ‘…creating sustained burning…’”


Companies who manufacture products that endanger consumers deserve to be held accountable for their negligence, and additional information about defective products liability is available on our website. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a defective product, contact our firm today at (800) 235-7060 to see how our Orlando personal injury attorneys may be able to help.

Wooten, Kimbrough & Normand, P.A. – Orlando personal injury lawyers

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  1. Suzanne says:
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    You have got to be kidding. I can sure see that this article was either written by someone who abused gasoline or an attorney. Amazing what they will use and say. Vapors are flammable, always will be and always have been. It’s a shame that it there are still people out in our world that don’t understand that. If you leave the lid off of any container that holds gasoline, you are releasing vapors in to the air. The container does not even need to be close to an open flame. The vapors themselves can catch fire and cause a flash of fire that will burn anyone around the area. A flame arrestor will not protect you from misuse of any gas can. If you are out there advocating flame arrestors can keep gasoline vapors from exploding, you should be sued when someone believes such a thing and believes they can pour fuel on a fire or leave the lid off of a container anywhere near a fire. Gasoline is gasoline and it is flammable. It is terrible that anyone doesn’t protect themselves and their loved ones when using gasoline for any purpose. Static can cause gasoline vapors to ignite just as we have all seen when people pumping gas in to their vehicles at a fuel station. It is not the fuel pumps that cause the disasters, it is the person holding the nozzle. They go in to their cars and charge themselves with static and then pump their gas. What results is an explosion. Blitz containers have so many warnings on them that are legible and complete. If we do not heed warnings when it comes to any product, we are misusing that product. What these lawsuits are doing is closing American businesses, causing loss of jobs and health insurance for the American people. It is the lawyers that are getting rich over foolish and abusive lawsuits. Have a look at http://www.facesoflawsuitabuse.org. It is amazing that American courts allow such suits and abuse. People need to take blame for what they do and in these cases they would rather pass the blame on to the manufacturing companies or the product itself. Something has got to change and we need to quit linning the pockets of these lawyers and fight with all we have in us to protect our American manufacturing companies before none of us have a place to work and they all end up in China.