Gas cans—found in just about half of American homes–continue to injure and maim consumers. Despite industry and scientific knowledge concerning flame arresters and their ability to prevent “flash back” explosions, portable gasoline container retailers and manufacturers have not instituted flame arresters into the design of the portable gasoline container or recalled defective gas cans which do not contain flame arresters.
The Flynn Law Firm recently filed a gas can explosion lawsuit on behalf of a burn victim in Oregon. The lawsuit—against Wal-Mart–alleges that :
The subject gas can sold by Wal-Mart was defective and unsafe for its intended
purposes at the time it left control of the Defendant in that the gas can lacked any form of flame arrester, a necessary safety device that would have prevented the explosion and resulting injuries.
Prior to the incident that injured the Plaintiff, the Defendant knew or should have
known that gasoline containers that lack flame arresters are susceptible to flashback explosions.Wal-Mart was engaged in the business of designing, marketing, distributing and
selling the can to consumers within the stream of commerce. Wal-Mart marketed, distributed and sold the can that caused Plaintiff’s injuries.
Wal-Mart expected the can to ultimately reach the residential consumer and/or
user without substantial change in the condition in which it was originally sold. The subject gas can did in fact reach Plaintiff without a substantial change in the condition in which it was originally sold by Wal-Mart and unexpectedly failed under ordinary and foreseeable use. The can was not modified or altered after it left Defendant’s control, and Plaintiff was utilizing the can in a foreseeable and reasonable manner in which the can was reasonably expected to be used.
At the time the can left Defendant’s control, and at all times complained of herein,
safer alternative designs were available that would have eliminated the risk of the subject gas can exploding without substantially impairing the usefulness and intended purpose of the product.
The can was defective and unsafe for its intended purposes at the time it left
Defendant’s control in that design failed to include a flame arrestor device, which is a necessary safety device that would have prevented Plaintiff’s catastrophic burn injuries.
Wal-Mart knew or should have known of the can’s susceptibility to flashback and
explosion, which occurs when gasoline vapors outside the can ignite and the flames follow the vapor trail back into the can, causing and explosion of the can and a release of burning gasoline and vapors and/or a flame thrower effect where burning vapors and liquid explode out of the can.
The can was unreasonably dangerous and defective in its design and manufacture
because it did not incorporate a flame arrestor, a technologically and economically feasible safety device that would have prevented the explosion in the present case, thereby increasing the risk of an explosion. Wal-Mart failed to warn Plaintiff of the defective condition of the can and that cans such as the one Plaintiff purchased may explode if there is a flashback that follows the gasoline vapors back to the can.
A flame arrestor, sometimes called a flame arresting screen, flash arrestor or spark
arrestor, is a small metal device that is placed in a container’s openings and allows liquids to flow out of the container but prevents the flashback of flames back into the container. The device consists of either a perforated metal disk or a wire mesh screen.
The efficacy of flame arrestors has been known for decades. Manufacturers of
portable gas cans have been aware of their existence and have included them in their design since before the 1950’s. In the 1970’s, flame arrestors were incorporated into cans marketed to the general public.
For more than a quarter century, the utility and efficacy of flame arrestors has
been a topic of discussion in the media and national publications and the subject of numerous lawsuits filed by consumers, users, and bystanders who have been burned and/or killed in encounters with portable gas cans that were not equipped with the device.
Consequently, Wal-Mart has known, or should have known, for decades prior to
this incident that gas cans without flame arrestors were susceptible to flashback (i.e., when gasoline vapors outside the container ignite, the flames can follow the vapor trails back inside the container causing it to explode and/or spew flames and burning gasoline).
Without the inclusion of a flame arrestor, the foreseeable risk of injury and/or
death associated with the use of the subject gas can far exceeded any utility and/or benefits associated with its design.
Nevertheless, despite the wealth of available scientific knowledge, Wal-Mart
made a conscious, willful, wanton and reckless decision to endanger the safety of consumers, users, and bystanders by selling a portable gasoline container without a well-known safety device, despite the fact that this safety device is economically and technologically feasible.
The can designed, marketed, distributed, and sold by Wal-Mart was defective
and/or unreasonably dangerous when sold.