Frivolous litigation was the spark that ignited a series of lawsuits that is causing an Ottawa County gas can maker to close, said Rocky Flick, CEO of Blitz U.S.A.
Blitz U.S.A./F3 Brands in Miami filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Nov. 9. On Monday, the company announced it would close July 31 and lay off 117 workers.
Nicely played, members of the American Association for Justice, formerly he Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Like all liberal interest groups, this bunch apparently had to change its name once the rubes caught on to what they were all about. Think NARAL.
Company officials said product liability lawsuits prompted the company to file bankruptcy. The lawsuits mostly involved people pouring gasoline out of a gas can onto an open fire, and the vapors igniting and causing injuries.
“We got 100 percent of the lawsuits even though we don’t have 100 percent of the gas cans out there,” Evans said.
Perhaps the 117 people now joining the ranks of the unemployed can take some comfort in knowing that at least the beneficiaries of these lawsuits are guys like the one who won his case against Blitz.
Flick said once the first lawsuit was settled, the floodgates of litigation were opened.
“The insurance company thought it was best to settle,” Flick said. “The first lawsuit settled for around $1 million, the last lawsuit for around $10 million, but most of the lawsuits were between $5 (million) to $10 million.”
The company went to trial on two cases, winning one and losing the other, a $4 million verdict involving the death of a child.
The jury found Blitz 70 percent liable, Flick said.
The girl, 4, was living in an unheated camper in Utah when her father poured gasoline into a woodstove, which ignited, Flick said. The child and her father caught on fire, the father ran out of the camper and left the child inside while he tried to put flames out that were on him, Flick said. The case is on appeal.
If the verdict stands, that $4 million should buy a lot of Cheetos and on-demand adult movies.