Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Why the Largest Maker of Portable Gas Cans is Going Out of Business

bitzcelt / Flickr

Blitz USA is based in Miami, Okla., and is the largest manufacturer of portable gas cans in the country.

The company, founded as U.S. Metal Container, started by selling olive-drab “jerry cans” to the U.S. military. The green cans were later painted red and shipped to non-military retailers, and in 1992 the company changed its name because most of its products were no longer metal — they’re now plastic.

Those red plastic fuel containers are ubiquitous, especially during the summer, when landscaping crews are out in full force.

But Blitz has filed for bankruptcy and will shut its doors at the end of the month. Why? Because it can no longer afford product liability insurance, Marketplace’s Sally Herships reports.

Deductibles for product liability insurance are often in the tens of millions of dollars, an expert in product liability law tells Marketplace. The rates go up even more if you have to use it, and Blitz is currently fighting 42 lawsuits.

Most of lawsuits against Blitz were brought by the same three lawyers, Marketplace reports.

Consumers have accused the company of making faulty cans that explode when used to pour gasoline onto fires.

Blitz says its cans carry warnings that say you should never use gasoline to start or accelerate a fire.

Even winning is expensive. Blitz beat one lawsuit in Texas, Marketplace reports, but the fight still cost the company about $2.5 million.

“We have been operating under extremely litigious environment and have been working toward a solution for quite some time,” the company’s president, Rocky Flick, and its director or product development, Grant Kernman, wrote in a 2011 letter to its customers. “The defense costs related to increased litigation associated with fuel containment products is the primary factor that leads to our current situation.”


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Comments

  • Stelonous

    Stupid people using lawyers to deflect their stupidity.

    • md

      and they are winning cause of stupid judges with a political agenda

  • Joe

    Gee, and the average citizens put LAWYER as the least respected of professionals. How many lives have these mostly ‘scum bags’ ruined while trying to squeeze money out of decent people.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robotgum John DeVoe

      Next time some idiot T-Bones your car while “texting,” call a pastry chef.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Todd-Clemmer/1506137119 Todd Clemmer

        Aww John must be an ambulance chaser.

      • D

        driving and text one thing taken a can of gas pouring it on a fire then blame the company that makes that can because you set your self one fire just stupid

  • http://www.facebook.com/thompson.speir Thompson Speir

    If the government doesn’t put you out of business through over regulation, the lawyers will with liability suites. When both happen, shut the doors and go home……..if you still have one.

  • guest

    There is no cure for stupidity. It is like ugly: it is to the bone & forever. The only salvation is for people who pour gas on an open fire is for it to kill them & thereby weeding out the gene pool.

    • Cameron

      Sure there is fire & gas, fixes stupid, maybe we can convince the lawyers there is money in the gas can but they have to pour it into the fire to get it!

  • guest2

    Well, I say if they are going out of business because of idiots, then take the warning off of the can and let people start fires with gasoline cans. I would imagine that lawyers like these who represent idiots will be the first to die.

  • Arnoldfudpucker

    John Edwards

  • Ap

    There are gas cans made with devices on the nozzle which do not allow fuel to be poured into anything other than a hole in a tank of appropriate size. They are a pain to use and have hazards of their own. No product is perfect.
    I wondered as a child why a criminal is entitled to a free defense attorney but a defendant in a lawsuit is not. If we require that a plaintiff’s attorney put up one dollar for the defense for every dollar spent on the prosecution, and eliminate out of court settlement, we would greatly curtail frivolous lawsuits. We also must sanction attorneys who file large numbers of frivolous suits.

    • SCJustice1991

      Please tell that to the families of the victims, in these lawsuits, that are now over half of a million dollars in debt, as a result of the sheer act of laziness from this company. That debt is acquired from the hospital bills alone and does not include future medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, loss of companionship, or even worse the loss of a spouse, sibling, or CHILD! Spare the minuscule amount of intelligence that you do have until you have done your research, seen photographs of a victim’s dead body, the burned skin, visual organs, or the doctors scraping away the topical layer of skin with a razor blade. I’m certain that there are less intelligent topics of conversation that you can input your ignorance in.

      Furthermore, if you want to belittle those who build a career in helping individuals received justice, I hope you have the complete understanding of how the legal system actually works.

      This gas can was a DEFECTIVE product and I’m not sure if you are aware of what causes of action are necessary to pursue a products liability suit, but the number one cause is negligence!

      From a consumer’s standpoint, if you are buying a product, you would assume that all components of this product are present and assembled correctly. However, because a company wants to be CHEAP and not put a screen (which costs less than 25 cents per gas can) in the spout, the gas can blows up and the consumer becomes severely injured, permanently disfigured, or dies.

      And you’re telling me that the attorneys are taking money away from decent people?

      • spare the religion

        Wait . . . you’re defending some idiot who poured gas on a fire? And what pathetic parent allows their child to pour gasoline on a fire? You are obviously invested in this and probably work at a plaintiffs’ firm (probably based on your title) or had your family member injured by stupidity. Runs in the family. That is not a fuel cans intended purpose, and any idiot knows it. The .25 per can screen isn’t all that’s necessary to protect fools. Then there will have to be additional warnings, then handles because the fool can hurt his back or drop the can, then a different type of lid from keeping the idiot from spilling when it’s stored upside down . . . and it goes on. Now, are you complaining of defective design, manufacturing or marketing? You are mixing theories in your response.

      • ChuckFinley

        Thank you for demonstrating how a trial lawyer works. First get rid of anybody capable of dispassionate reasoning from the jury by peremptory challenges, then slather on the emotion and images of the horrifying results of your plaintiff’s stupidity.

        We need and end to joint and severable liability and we need loser pays laws in order to slow down the lawsuit lottery industry that is driving industry and jobs out of the United States.

        Here is what is going to happen with the destruction of the last gasoline container manufacturer in the United States: Cheaper and less safe gasoline containers will be manufactured in China. They will be imported by cut outs, fronts and shell companies which will be effectively immune from lawsuits because they will have no substantial assets that can be taken. The Russian Mafia are particularly skilled at this sort of thing. Finally, they will be sold by street vendors and bodegas because they do not have enough assets to be worth suing.

        In the end the winners are China and the shady but sophisticated importers who bring in the new gas cans while the losers are the workers who’s jobs have been lost and the American people who have lost yet another part of their infrastructure while their tax dollars go to pay unemployment to the ex-employees of Blitz. The lawyers, having killed this particular host, will move on to infect and kill another functioning piece of America.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Todd-Clemmer/1506137119 Todd Clemmer

        Another dog shit lawyer.

      • John Jay

        Its simply NOT the product manufacturers fault dimwit! Some moron literally pours gas on a fire, burns, and looks to blame that act of stupidity on someone else? Fuck off sheister. Youre duplicitous in the dumbing down of a once great nation. You outta burn with your client chump.

      • Dumbass

        The defective part was the one that poured gas on an open fire.What kind of idiot does that?

      • In the know

        yes, negligence by the user, and then these vulture lawyers waiting for some to be of low enough intelligence to think that their dumb act of gas + open fire = no problem, they made me do it.

  • Dennis Gilber43t

    How can a jury not see through this charade? 12 jurors were blind?

    • Doug

      You didn’t read the article very carefully.

      “Even winning is expensive. Blitz beat one lawsuit in Texas, Marketplace reports, but the fight still cost the company about $2.5 million.”

      • In the know

        Yes, and with that the plaintiffs and their lawyers should be made to pay the defendants litigation costs.

  • C_prowse2001

    they suck. anyone who has used the original Wedco cans knows what a good can is. Any experienced overlander won’t even consider a Blitz.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KRTD25YP4LYFCC6O2L64GU2YBY George

    Just another reason to go off shore, and do note attorney’s who go after Blitz favor one party over the other in politics.. who is working hard to drive American business off shore?

  • soreass

    you can try make things idiot proof but the just keep making better idiots!
    government, lawyers, judges, cops, you all have the same in common..
    ALL IDIOTS!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikeysti Mike Staiano

    the plaintiff of the lawsuit should pay the 2.5 mil in legal fees

  • AZToad

    In an effort to see a way to understand these law suits, I just can’t get passed the simplicity of GAS + FIRE = VERY BAD ! Obviously accidents can happen, and they can bring catastrophic results. But still, we usually associate user error as just that …. error. Not being crass or uncaring, just honest. Below, SCJustice1991 does a nice rant about everything but the actual cause of these ‘accidents’ … USER ERROR ! To say a simple screen were the fix, and would have avoided these ‘accidents’ is like saying GAS + FIRE = Sure, go ahead …. no problem. My heart goes out to anyone that has a mishap of whatever kind end in tragedy. But at some point …. our actions are our own, should we choose to ignore posted warnings, common sense and simple science, we do so at our own risk.

    • FatgunED

      I just can;t get past – not passed

  • http://twitter.com/ReginaldConway ReginaldConwayIII

    Are you sure it’s just lawsuits and not also the fact that petrol is so much more expensive than it used to be? I don’t doubt that the company is negatively impacted by litigation, but this smells of focussing on a single tree while the forest burns.

  • stings

    Did your product cause harm to the user? I know a company which makes matches and have zero lawsuits! Don’t blame others for your poor design.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Todd-Clemmer/1506137119 Todd Clemmer

    Hang all lawyers yesterday. Start over.

  • Tom

    A “Blitz” plastic gas container is made to transport flammable gasoline. The container NEVER burned anyone – the gasoline causes the damage(s). Another example of “Attorney Greed” who have never made a single product better ! ! ! ! !

  • aintthispeachy

    I was just going to contact the company because I live in a hurricane prone area and fill up 7 5 gallon containers before the season starts. When it gets hot these containers all start squeezing fuel out the top of the containers,… A lot of fuel!!!! It is a pathetic designed can and they are the most popular can in the world. If you screw the cap on wrong once it is permanently damaged. They should all be thrown in jail for such a hazard.

  • Marsha

    How stupid does one have to be, not to know that of course the plastic can will explode…duh…that’s like starting a BBQ fire with charcoal, and then squirting charcoal lighter fluid on the coals…dump, dump…stupiditiy!

  • Jim

    I have four of these cans. i used only one. followed directions to the letter and it still leaked gas! Not a safe product.

    • In the know

      then you must be from ‘the other side’. I have 4- 5gal and 4-2gal cans and the only problems I have had is loosing the yellow cap that goes on the end of the spout

      • Vash the Stampede

        half inch pvc pipe caps non threaded. fit some of the cans with the slip on yellow plastic caps. I have a blitz can with a nonflexible black spout & that is what I used after I lost mine. The cans are to thin and swell up so much in sunlight that they become rounded and will fall over. Especially on a long drive home. I tie my cans up so they will not blow out when empty or turn over when full. The blue kerosene cans seem a little bit heaver built. The old Gott cans did not have this problem.

  • Panors77

    And of course NOW my plastic Blitz cans’ white plastic spout tube has torn in two and I can’t find another one at any local stores. Thanks EPA?? PHEH!

  • Anonimous

    Would this happened with tin cans, made from “more expensive” metal? Aren´t users supposed to expect plastic cans to keep the same specifications as conventional tin cans when these were replaced in the market? Aren´t any state or federal regulations to protect consumers for this to happen?

  • HB

    I was just going to contact the company about a new gas can that split just under the top handle. I guess, I am too late.
    H

  • Dave Randall

    Leech vulture lawyers

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