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July 23rd, 2012

The Trial Bar Burns on With a Blitz Attack

As reported this week by the Wall Street Journal, Blitz USA- the nation’s No. 1 consumer gasoline-can producer, based in Miami, Oklahoma, has filed for bankruptcy due to an abusive attack of frivolous lawsuits led by the trial bar.  The small business, made up of 117 local employees, has controlled some 75% of the U.S. market for plastic gas cans and had revenues of $60 million in 2011.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has never deemed Blitz’s products unsafe, but yet the trial lawyers decided to attack anyways.

Using true trial-bar logic, a group of trial lawyers from several different states decided to begin suing Blitz whenever someone poured gas on a fire (for instance, to rekindle the flame) and the can exploded, alleging that the explosion was the result of defects in the can’s design as opposed to simple misuse of the product.  Last year, the lawsuits really started to flood in and Blitz paid $30 million just to defend itself.  This is a substantial amount for any company, and an especially hard hit for a small business like Blitz.

The company, one of Miami’s biggest employers, has now been forced to shut its doors and all 117 employees will lose their jobs.  Several other small business owners have flocked to their local chambers of commerce with questions about the secondary impact on their livelihoods.

The rest of the plastic-can industry cannot be far behind, so long as there is cash flow for the trial bar to covet.  Even more telling of the trial bar’s plans is the fact that The American Association for Justice’s (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) annual conference in Chicago this month will feature a meeting of the “gas cans litigation group.”

As usual, the trial lawyers have failed to see the impact of such an attack on the average consumer and are blinded by the money-making opportunity.  Blitz has warned about the affect its filing for bankruptcy will have on consumers once the Atlantic Hurricane season kicks into high gear.  Blitz estimates that the demand for plastic gas cans rises 30% during this time.  If consumers cannot find their familiar red plastic cans, they are going to be forced to carry fuel in heavy metal containers or ad-hoc dangerous alternatives.

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