They are classic product liability cases: terrible injuries, careless conduct, and an apparently simple fix. It leads to compromise and to the occasional blockbuster verdict as in the Utah case Calder v. Blitz USA, Inc., in which he jury found Calder 30% at fault and Blitz 70%. Pouring gasoline on a fire is a terrible idea. And it gets worse if the flame shoots back to the source and the can explodes. the defenses of misuse and the user's contributory negligence are obvious.
But what if there is a simple device - a flame arrester - a piece of wire mesh - that, an engineer explains, could prevent the explosion? An alternative safer design, its feasibility, and practicality become the focus of the litigation. And so it as been for the ironically named Blitz- manufacturers of a familiar object: the red plastic gas can which has gone bankrupt and shut down. Someone will buy their assets but will not continue their product line for fear of taking on their liabilities too. The Times presents the story well. - GWC
In a Shuttered Gasoline Can Factory, the Two Sides of Product Liability - NYTimes.com:
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
Crusading against what it considers frivolous lawsuits, the United States Chamber of Commerce has had no shortage of cases to highlight, like the man suing a cruise line after burning his feet on a sunny deck or the mother claiming hearing loss from the screaming at a Justin Bieber concert. Now, the lobbying group’s Institute for Legal Reform is showing a 30-second commercial that uses Blitz USA, a bankrupt Oklahoma gasoline can manufacturer, to illustrate the consequences of abusive lawsuits. The ad shows tearful workers losing their jobs and the lights going out at the 46-year-old company as a result of steep legal costs from lawsuits targeting the red plastic containers, according to the company and the institute."...'via Blog this'