Walmart Will Pay $25M toward Gas Can Lawsuits

Walmart, the largest retailer in America, agreed to contribute $25 million to help settle several gas can explosion lawsuits across the country. Walmart’s $25 million contribution will account for roughly 15 percent of the projected $161 million settlement. The settlement will be paid out to injured gas can explosion victims, as well as families of those who were killed in gas can explosions. If approved, the settlement will cover gas can lawsuit claims from July 2007 through July 2012.

Walmart Named Gas Can Lawsuit Defendant

Blitz USA is the primary defendant in more than 80 gas can lawsuits over the past decade. Blitz is one of the largest plastic gas can manufacturers in America. Walmart has also been named a defendant in 24 gas can explosion lawsuits. This is because the company has remained one of the largest Blitz gas can distributors. Walmart is estimated to have sold tens of millions of the defective plastic gas cans.

Knowledge of Safety Risks

The lawsuits allege that despite knowledge of the safety issues, Walmart continued to sell the defective gas cans to its consumers. Furthermore, many allege that Walmart owes a special ethical duty to the public as the country’s largest retailer. Plaintiffs and legal experts argue that Walmart executives should have used the company’s power to demand that the gas can design be altered to improve safety.

Denial of Responsibility

Although Walmart agreed to participate in the settlement, the company has not acknowledged any potential safety defects in the design of the gas cans. Walmart has also failed to accept any responsibility in maintaining and regulating gas can safety. During 2010 depositions for the gas can lawsuits, a former gas can buyer for Walmart asserted that Walmart does not perform product testing for any of its products. Instead, the full responsibility rests in the hands of the gas can manufacturer, Blitz USA.

Improving Gas Can Safety

A primary issue in the gas can lawsuits is that many claim that Blitz and Walmart had the power to make the portable gas cans safer. Despite this power, the companies refused to do so for unknown reasons. While not explicitly proven, research suggests that an item called a flame arrester may have the ability to decrease the risk of gas can explosions. Flame arresters help to dissipate the heat of a flame. This can in turn reduce the likelihood that the gas fumes will catch fire. The flame arresters would increase production costs by less than one dollar per gas can, making the safety addition relatively inexpensive.