Retail giant Wal-Mart said that it is willing to contribute $25 million towards a proposed $161 million settlement that would settle dozens of lawsuits alleging that the Blitz USA gas cans it sold were defective and could explode.
The manufacturer of the gas cans is now bankrupt and out of business, in large part due to payouts it made to victims of the alleged explosions. Blitz was the largest manufacturer of gas cans in the nation. Wal-Mart sold millions of Blitz-made gas cans and has been named in 24 of the some 80 outstanding lawsuits.
The lawsuits allege that Blitz and Wal-Mart consciously sold a defective product and that the resulting deaths and burn injuries from the explosions were the result of a design flaw that could easily have been addressed with the addition of an inexpensive safety device called a flame arrester. A flame arrester is a piece of mesh or a disk with holes that decreases the risk of an explosion by preventing a spark or flame from entering the can.
Wal-Mart contends it was the manufacturer’s responsibility to assure that the product was safe and said that the store is not at fault. However, an attorney who represents several of the plaintiffs said that Wal-Mart was well aware of the problem with the cans, but kept selling them despite allegations that people were being killed or suffering severe burns due to explosions.
A spokesman for Wal-Mart admitted that the retailer never asked the manufacturer to investigate the alleged gas can problems despite a record of explosions that dated back to 2005.
Blitz USA is blaming the injuries and deaths on misuse of its product.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) recently issued a statement calling for the consumer gas can industry to incorporate flame arresters into its products.
It is the responsibility of a manufacturer or retailer to sell products that are safe for the public. In this case, a simple, inexpensive device could have saved lives and prevented injuries. If you have suffered an injury due to a defective product, contact the product liability attorneys at Farah & Farah in Gainesville. We can be reached online or call us at (800) 533-3555. Your case review is free.