In a separate but related matter, the nation’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, has agreed to contribute about $25 million to settle unresolved lawsuits filed on behalf of consumers injured or killed in explosions involving portable plastic gas cans. The money from Wal-Mart amounts to slightly more than 15 percent of a proposed $161 million fund that would settle dozens of lawsuits against Blitz USA, the largest manufacturer of these cans. A hearing on the proposed settlement is set for early this year. Wal-Mart, the largest seller of plastic gas cans, has sold tens of millions of Blitz gas cans. In agreeing to contribute toward the settlement, Wal-Mart says it does not acknowledge any safety defect in the Blitz cans.
Blitz, based in Miami, Okla., and formerly the nation’s largest manufacturer of plastic gas cans, is now in bankruptcy and out of business. Lawyers representing individuals burned in alleged gas can explosion incidents have filed at least 80 lawsuits against can manufacturers in the last decade or so. Some have also targeted retailers that sold the cans. Wal-Mart says it was named as a defendant in 24 of the lawsuits, which allege that Blitz and Wal-Mart knowingly sold a defective product that could explode and produce catastrophic and sometimes fatal injuries, and refused to add a safety device, known as a flame arrester, to make the cans safer.
Sources: Law360.com, Lisa Myers, Rich Gardella and NBC News
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