Oklahoma Company’s Negligence Being Used to Promote Tort Reform

May 23, 2014
by Adler Markoff & Associates

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    Oklahoma Company’s Negligence Being Used to Promote Tort Reform

    Blitz USA, an Oklahoma company previously responsible for about 70% of the gasoline can market, has spent more than $30 million defending 42 product liability lawsuits involving consumers pouring gasoline out of the metal cans onto an open fire. The crippling impact of the litigation against Blitz USA forced the company to shut down earlier this week, leaving 117 employees suddenly without a job. Although the media would have you believe that Blitz USA is an honest company being taken advantage of by consumers misusing its product and suing for compensation, consider instead the consumers who have suffered life-altering injuries and death while using the potentially dangerous Blitz USA gas cans. No product intended for consumer use should put the user at risk of injury or fatality. If you have suffered injuries caused by a dangerous consumer product, contact our personal injury attorneys at AMA Law to explore your compensation options.


    The recent controversy surrounding Blitz USA’s gas cans seems like a repeat of the way the media spun the hot coffee lawsuit filed against McDonald’s in 1994. Hearing about Stella Liebeck’s lawsuit in the news, one would think the fast food franchise had fallen victim to a greedy plaintiff injured by her own stupidity and looking to make some easy money. Similarly, a KOAM-TV segment recently filmed a documentary at an Oklahoma factory for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Faces of Lawsuit Abuse” website. According to the piece, Blitz USA had been manufacturing gas cans for nearly 50 years, but the factory recently filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was forced to close because of “frivolous lawsuits” filed by “individuals pouring gasoline onto a fire.” At the end of the segment, KOAM anchor Dowe Quick says, “Hard to imagine some people don’t understand the dangers of mixing gasoline and fire.” Dismissive remarks like these only further the inaccurate media portrayal of foolish, dishonest consumers making millions at the expense of an honest company.


    Last year, a former Blitz quality control officer revealed to the new program “Dan Rather Reports” that the company was aware of safety issues concerning their gas can products. “The attitude was always get the product out the door,” the former Blitz employee said. “I mean, there was not – no focus on quality. You know they were more money driven and numbers driven.” That employee also said that Blitz regularly shredded documents, and the company was previously reprimanded by a Texas court for “various discovery violations” and “failure to disclose documents” in one lawsuit. Unfortunately, Blitz has continued to blame injuries sustained by consumers on “misuse” of their cans, even though it has been reported that many gas can accidents and explosions could have been prevented had the company included a piece of wire mesh called a flame arrestor.


    In September 2010, a 6-year-old girl burned to death when her father, trying to start a fire in his fire pit, accidentally doused her in gasoline. He spent months in prison before his attorneys appealed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosions (ATF), which concluded that “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.” Despite these potential dangers, Blitz USA has maintained that its gas cans are safe when used properly, putting the blame for injuries and fatalities on “foolish” consumers who misuse them.


    Companies in Oklahoma and across the United States who manufacture dangerous products that put consumers at risk of injury or death deserve to be held accountable for their negligence. Unfortunately, when media outlets spin stories such as these in the favor of negligent companies, they only succeed in furthering the notion that tort reform is necessary to quell “frivolous” lawsuits filed by injured consumers. If you or a loved one has sustained serious injuries caused by a defective or dangerous product, contact our personal injury attorneys at AMA Law today. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering, which you can pursue by filing a product liability lawsuit against the person or company found at-fault in the accident.

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    (405) 607-8757