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.
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