According to a news report by Dan Rather, commercial grade gas cans are required to have flame arrestors installed in the cans to prevent gas explosions. These simple mesh disks help prevent heat, sparks, or flames from entering the can by mistake. If a spark or flame enters a gas can, it can cause it to explode and injure nearby users.
Small, consumer-grade gas cans, however, are not yet required to have these flame arrestors. As a result, several individuals have become victims of a Blitz gas can injury. One man was even arrested and accused of killing his daughter “ a charge for which he was later cleared when studies showed that Blitz gas cans without flame arrestors can explode and shoot flames over some distance.
Plaintiffs who have filed a Blitz gas can lawsuit against defendants for failure to install flame arrestors in their products have won damages in court.
No Safety Standards to Prevent a Blitz Gas Can Injury
Though there are several manufacturers of small, consumer-grade gas cans, Blitz USA has the largest market share. Despite numerous plaintiffs filing Blitz gas can lawsuits, the company refuses to implement flame arrestors in their products. Continued litigation against the company is now considered part of the reason why Blitz recently declared bankruptcy, and, in June 2012, announced it was shutting down operations.
According to a Blitz USA press release, While it is now too late to save Blitz, adoption of mandatory safety standards could convince others to invest in expanded operations. The release was speaking of the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, which has twice refused to mandate fuel-can safety standards. The organization has stated that injuries have occurred not because of a product issue, but because of consumer misuse. Studies conducted on gas cans, however, show this statement to be untrue.
Studies Show Gas Cans Can Explode
According to the Dan Rather report, 24-year-old Robert Jacoby, an Oregon resident, was clearing debris in his yard and planning to burn it when the can exploded and seriously burned him. He doused the brush pile and turned to move the can a safe distance away when it exploded in his hand. He suffered second and third degree burns over 75 percent of his body.
A similar incident occurred in Michigan when Majd Al-Shara was put on trial for allegedly killing his daughter by dousing her with gasoline. Al-Shara, who was also badly burned himself, insisted the incident was an accident. His attorneys appealed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and fire experts conducted tests on the cans. Out of 17 tests, 13 resulted in the cans exploding and shooting flames over 13 feet.
The final ATF report concluded that it was possible for a two-gallon gas container to produce a flame jet from the open mouth, and that the force of the combustion inside the can was capable of propelling ignited liquid out of the gas container over some distance.
Charges against Al-Shara were reduced to a misdemeanor. Later, the gas can manufacturing industry conducted tests, and in three of the four tests the cans exploded. Still, Blitz failed to install flame arrestors in their products.
Blitz Accused of Failing to Product Court Documents
The final straw against the company was when some employees came forward to admit that Blitz was cutting corners in product quality. Former quality control officer William Bailey noted that he was also told to get rid of the paper that you don’t need.
One Blitz gas can lawsuit was settled in the Eastern District of Texas, but a year later the plaintiff’s counsel sought sanctions after learning that Blitz had failed to produce certain documents that showed their interest in potentially using flame arrestors. The company was ordered to pay $250,000 in civil contempt sanctions.