Three men who suffered severe injuries and burns when a portable gas can exploded, have filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, alleging that the plastic container should have had a flame arrestor to prevent the flames from flashing back into the can.
The gas can lawsuit was filed on February 17, 2009, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, against Blitz USA, which manufactures a variety of plastic fuel containers.
The plaintiffs, A.J. McSwain, Chris Gaddy and Chris Raymond, were all in their 20s when a Blitz portable gas can exploded on February 9, 2008, causing flames and burning gasoline to shoot onto them. As a result of the gas can explosion, the men were left with permanent scarring and debilitating injuries.
The complaint alleges that the gas can was unreasonably dangerous and defectively designed, because it did not contain a safety device known as a flame arrester which would have prevented the flashback of the flames into the gas can and the subsequent explosion.
Gas can flame arrestors are an inexpensive safety feature, which usually costs under 50 cents to add to a container. They have small holes within the gas spout, which prevents flames from entering the containier.
The “technology” has been around for over 200 years, as they were first used to prevent explosions when coal miners carrying lanterns encountered pockets of gas within the mine. They are currently found on a number of different products, including certain bottles of Bacardi Rum.
According to the Southeast Texas Record, Blitz USA participated in a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) task group on flame arrestors in 2007.
In prior gasoline can lawsuits, manufacturers have faced claims over inadequate warnings and design defects for failing to include safety features like flame arrestors, child resistant caps and closures to reduce the risk of spills.
In January 2009, the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act went into effect, requiring all gas cans sold in the United States to contain child resistant caps. The law was enacted in July 2008, to close a loophole in prior legislation involving the sale of containers with flammable liquids.
Until the legislation went into effect, many gas can makers were not including the child safety caps, arguing that their cans did not fall under the prior safety laws since they are sold empty.