Large corporations and tort reform advocates are re-igniting their assault against personal injury attorneys who routinely represent salt-of-the-Earth folks. The newest assault is centered around Blitz USA, America’s largest plastic gas can maker. This massive corporation recently announced that it was closing its doors after close to 50 years in operation.
Blitz is claiming that it cannot operate due to an overwhelming number of unwarranted products liability lawsuits. This inspired big business and tort reform advocates to initiate multiple attacks in the Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and other media outlets. The attacks against personal injury lawyers are baseless and distort the facts.
The facts are undeniable - over 75 people suffered horrific injuries such as disfiguring burns by Blitz gas cans. To make matters worse, many of the victims were children. If that wasn’t bad enough, the serious injuries and deaths from these defective gas cans is likely to continue since Blitz was Walmart’s exclusive supplier of gas cans and had 75 percent of the market.
So what caused the defect? Well, it turns out Blitz failed to install a simple flame arrestor that experts say would have cost less than $1, according to letamericaknow.com. Other manufacturers use it, but Blitz did not (probably to try and maximize profit while neglecting consumer safety).
So here we are – big business blaming trial attorneys for a problem that could have been avoided if a business had been more conscious about safety. Unfortunately, this is not new. Not too long ago, big business began the “tort reform” movement centered around a personal injury case involving a woman who suffered burns after spilling McDonald’s coffee in her lap. The victim in that infamous case was Stella Liebeck and here’s what actually happened:
Mrs. Liebeck was seated on the passenger side of her grandson's vehicle which was parked in a McDonald’s parking lot. She held the coffee between her knees to steady it as she attempted to remove the lid from the cup. Then, the 180 degree coffee suddenly poured over her lap and down her thighs. As a result, Mrs. Liebeck suffered third-degree burns and required skin grafts. Her medical bills were over $10,000. McDonald’s offered only $800 to settle the claim. Also, evidence provided during the litigation showed that there had been 700 burn reports prior to Mrs. Liebeck’s injury, according to Bob Etier’s technorati.com page.
Learn the truth about the infamous McDonald's case and the baseless tort reform movement: Corporations used Mrs. Liebeck’s case to begin a tort reform movement focused on capping non-economic damages and reducing access to the civil court system for folks who do not make enough money to have a high-price attorney on retainer. It looks like the same old campaign is being advanced, but now with the Blitz gas cans.
As a personal injury lawyer, it’s frustrating being vilified for attempting to represent the right of innocent victims who have suffered horrific, life-altering injuries. Nevertheless, we will not back down and let big business get its way. Numerous studies and reports provide the empirical proof that courts are not inundated with civil lawsuits and caps on non-economic damages only serve the interests of big business.