Moral Low Ground


Walmart to Pay $25 Million to Settle Exploding Gas Can Lawsuits

December 10, 2013 by Brett Wilkins in Business & Corporations with 0 Comments

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Walmart, America’s largest retailer, has agreed to pay $25 million to settle lawsuits filed by individuals who were killed or injured by exploding plastic gas cans sold by the company.

CNBC reports the $25 million settlement amounts to just over 15 percent of the proposed $161 million fund meant to settle dozens of lawsuits against Blitz USA, the manufacturer of the exploding gas cans. Walmart, which has sold tens of millions of the cans, is not acknowledging any safety defects in them, despite agreeing to settle.

Oklahoma-based Blitz USA has gone out of business over the barrage of lawsuits and from having to pay previous victims of exploding gas cans.

Walmart told NBC news that it has been named as a defendant in 24 of those lawsuits, which allege that Blitz and the retailer knowingly sold defective cans that could explode and cause death or serious injury. The suits also allege the defendants refused to fit the cans with flame arresters, safety devices that would have made them safer.

Blitz USA countered that any death or injury resulting from use of its cans is attributable to consumer misuse and negligence.

Walmart insisted that Blitz USA was responsible for the safety of its gas cans.

“Walmart does not test the can, the products,” asserted former Walmart gas can buyer Jacques DesHommes in 2010. “The suppliers test the products.”

But Diane Breneman, an attorney who has represented dozens of plaintiffs in gas can cases, told CNBC that Walmart should have pressed Blitz USA to improve product safety.

“If you are repeatedly sued in cases and the allegations are people are being severely burned or burning to death, you can’t hide your head in the sand,” said Breneman. “You’re making money off of those cans. You have a responsibility at that point to investigate it, to do whatever is necessary, if you’re going to continue to sell the product.”

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