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The Institue for Legal Reform, in an effort to combat what they consider to be excessively “frivolous” claims, has started speaking out against the consequences of potentially abusive lawsuits. Will "tort reform" really keep us safer? These suits, however, provide much needed monetary compensation to injured persons, and continue to bring awareness to products that may be potentially harmful to the general public. Blitz, an Oklahoma gasoline can manufacturer, is one such company showcased by the lobby group in an attempt to draw attention to the repercussions of so called "frivolous" suits. For the consumers injured by Blitz’s products, a dangerous product, however, these suits are anything but frivolous.

A recent commercial ran by the Institute for Legal Reform highlights Blitz, a bankrupt Oklahoma gasoline can manufacturer, who had to shut down operations due to legal payout from recent lawsuits. Although the 30 second commercial showcases unemployed workers and the shutting down of the corporation, it fails to highlight the complexities of the corporation’s legal liabilities that drove them to that point. In recent years, Blitz has paid out millions to consumers based on injuries sustained while using Blitz’s gasoline cans, refusing to fix a seemingly defective product. The gas cans manufactured by Blitz were linked to “flashback’ explosions caused by vapors outside the can igniting and following the vapor trail back into the container. Blitz has been sued 62 times, with two reported cases of injury in every million gasoline cans sold. Even more shocking is that issues such as flashback explosions were not unknown to Blitz, as evidenced by an internal memo circulated by Rocky Flick, the company’s chief executive, stating his wish list would be that the company “develop and introduce device to eliminate flashback from a flame source.”

Lobby groups such as the Institute for Legal Reform will do their job of pulling at America’s heart strings, but as our country moves forward with tort reform it is important to remember that both Attorneys and the Judiciary have an ethical duty to not represent or hear any such frivolous suits. When an individual is injured due to a defective product, or the negligence of a corporation, it is their right to have their case heard in a court of law and seek the damages they are deserved. The next time you hear of a corporation that is shut down or hindered due to such lawsuits, it is important that you gather all of the facts on the issue before passing judgment on the individuals.

Lindsay Rakers, defective product attorney

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for MC

    Well, to be fair, some of the (successful) plaintiffs are morons who can't possibly follow directions and use common sense. Take, for example, the one guy who sued a gas can manufacturer after he'd burned himself by pouring/throwing gasoline right from a gas can into a wood stove/fire place actively burning...despite all the warnings on the can itself. Despite all the nespaper and TV news stories, media, YouTube videos, internet stories, etc., warnings from parents, teachers and other people about getting blown up or burned when one stosses gasoline onto a fire. For decades. Either this guy lived under a rock and had zero contact with the outside world for almost all of his life, thus wasn't aware of any of this, or he was just another brilliant in-DUH-vidual abusing his right to be stupid. Seeing how the former is practically impossible to completely avoid in the modern world (especially in this Information Age), I believe the latter.

    I don't see why an honest manufacturer or vendor-let alone any of us taxpayers- should have to pay for someone else's chintzy bravado and STUPIDITY.

    It's time we, as people who live in the most litigous society on the face of this Earth, stop for a moment, step back and take a look in the mirror to find the one person where accountability starts. It's time to stop passing the buck, blaming everyone/everything else and accepting responsibility for our own screw-ups. It's time to stop justifying our idiocy by suing companies and people into a smoking crater every time we do something that hurt us because we weren't paying attention or weren't following directions/common sense or heeding warnings. This is part of what's driving companies out of business, killing jobs and forcing us to accept INFERIOR PRODUCTS that are cheaply made in Asia, Mexico, etc.

    Granted, Blitz had some significant design issues. I've used their cans before and have found them to be difficult to operate in order to properly and safely dispense gasoline. But let's not kid ourselves: a LOT of lawsuits out there, in fact, do not merit a basis for award. However, attorneys find the technicalities that force the courts' hands into siding with irresponsible people.

    We can't legislate and regulate every single stinking thing we do in our lives. There comes a point where COMMON SENSE and RATIONAL THOUGHT PROCESSES must take place, instead of scratching your head and wondering "I wonder why this can says 'do not dispense fuel on or near open flame or heat source'?" or "I saw this guy do it on TV in a show. I'm gonna do the same thing because he did it and nothing happened to him." DERP.

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