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John Stossel, self-professed libertarian and free-market advocate, should be thrilled that Blitz USA has closed its doors.

Instead, in his article Fueling Lawsuit Abuse, Stossel laments that Blitz USA went into bankruptcy because “…lawyers saw an opportunity. They realize that people misuse gas cans by pouring gasoline on hot embers (to restart fires). People get burned, and some die.”

Blitz was aware of the problem of fumes leaking from their gas cans for years – decades, even. An essential safety component – a 3-cent flame arrester – was purposefully left off of their cans. Fumes leaked, explosions occurred, dozens of people were burned and some died. And it isn't only people using the cans to pour gas on fires who were maimed or killed: explosions can occur from static electricity, or proximity to natural gas. Yet, Blitz USA proclaimed “The gasoline containers ARE made as safe a manner as possible”.

Stossel, an alleged consumer activist, complains that the Consumer Product Safety Commission didn’t find a problem with the product. Therefore, Blitz MUST have been doing everything right, and shouldn’t be held responsible for the serious harm caused by their faulty gas cans.

You know who did have a problem with their product? American consumers and American juries. The defective design of Blitz gas cans is what put the company out of business. Their defective product maimed and killed people, and those people took action. And, juries of their peers—peers of the injured consumers and Blitz—consistently agreed that Blitz put a defective product on the market, and our system of justice punished Blitz for the harm it caused. By his own account, Stossel should be delighted: the system worked the way he (professes to) want it to work.

Stossel claims to believe that “There is nothing government can do that we cannot do better as free individuals — and as groups of individuals working freely together.”

And here, individuals and juries have shut down an unsafe product manufacturer.

Finally, John Stossel has an unbelievable amount of nerve blaming the victims of a faulty gas can design for the horrendous burns they suffered, claiming they were responsible for their own injuries. This is a man who filed a lawsuit against wrestler David Schultz for slapping him after he questioned the authenticity of professional wrestling. Shouldn’t he have known better than to pick a fight with an enormous wrestler?

Regardless, Stossel reportedly suffered pain and headaches for 8 weeks afterward – and settled his case out of court for $425,000. Compare those injuries to those of the Blitz gas can burn victims, who were just trying to get the company to take responsibility for the harm caused by their defective product.

Stossel is either deeply confused, or his hypocrisy knows no limit.

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  1. Gravatar for frank

    How hard is it to keep gasoline containers out of reach of children and to not pour it on fires? Gasoline is MEANT to burn. Bullets are MEANT to pierce through objects. When a kid picks up his parent's gun or even knocks it over and it fires, do you sue the gun manufacturer?

  2. Gravatar for Tom D'Amore

    Frank, thanks for your comment. Gas cans should have flame arresters, much like the guns that you reference have safety features that are meant to keep them from misfiring. Furthermore, these gas cans have exploded because of triggers like static electricity, or nearby natural gas pilot lights: these explosions could have been prevented by flame arresters. Blitz USA chose to ignore this very simple safety precaution, and consumers and juries have responded.

  3. Frank: Tom says a 3 cent safety arrester would have prevented at least some of the injuries and deaths. Let's assume that that is true. And, the company that manufactures the product is in a greater position to understand and correct the hazard than the public, would you agree? So, the question is, for a lousy 3 cents, why didn't the company make the correction and prevent at least one of these injuries or deaths? Obviously, judges and juries who have studied these cases, containers and defects (provided with far more information than you or I) have not liked Blitz USA's answer to that question.

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