I am no fan of lawsuits. That’s not to say that there aren’t real abuses warranting legal action in the country; there are. Rather, it is the stupid, punitive and illogical lawsuits (which exist to simply target the deepest pockets) that drive me batty.
Working in the insurance industry for close to 20 years probably has something to do with my view, but you don’t need to have had my vantage point to see that lawsuit abuse is having a deleterious effect on our economy and freedom.
We’ve talked about some truly stupid cases before (look HERE and HERE for examples), but this one is as mind-blowing as any of those.
MIAMI, OK — Frivolous litigation 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.
“This is quite a blow,” said Chuck Evans, plant manager. “We hope another plant comes in and takes over.”
In 1992, U.S. Metal Container became Blitz U.S.A., partly due to a switch to plastic containers. For years, U.S. Metal Container sold gas cans to government agencies for military use. In 1966, it was the only gas can manufacturer in the U.S., and a year later the gas can was painted bright red and sold to thousands of customers nationwide, the company’s website says.
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.
Flick said the company was unable to put together a reorganization plan.
The 50-year-old company will have its assets sold Sept. 6, he said.
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.
Now come on: this mental midget poured gas onto a woodstove, it ignited, and the makers of the GAS CAN are liable? Really? Is no one responsible for their own idiocy anymore?
If I back my car into a tree, can I sue the car manufacturer? If I drop my ballpoint pen into the washing machine and ruin my shirts, am I now allowed to sue PaperMate®??
If that’s the case, we’ll never have a small business open in this country again.
Why would you take the inherent risk of trying to eke out a living working for yourself if you think that your life’s work could be confiscated by someone (with a lower IQ than your inanimate product) suing you, making you pay for your defense and, even worse…they might actually win?
Where does this end?
It ends when we stop appointing justices to courts who view everyone as a victim (except Conservatives and Christians, of course). It ends when the working folks stop trying to get out of jury duty, which too often leaves juries populated by the very people who are prone to bring a stupid case like this to trial.
It ends when we, as citizens, demand it to end.
Some on the Left bristle when they hear Conservatives say we need to take our country back. They whine something along the lines of “take it back from WHOM, exactly”? The answer should be that we need to take it back from those who would see it fall into ruin, and even from those who would merely turn a blind eye to the societal wreckage which surrounds them.
As I commented on another blog recently, if the United States was a train, we’d be running out of track. Either we each stand up, hit the brakes and turn this thing around…or we’re all going over the edge. Together.
We bought a new clothes iron the other day. There must have been a dozen warning labels glued to the cord. My favorite was: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO IRON CLOTHES WHILE WEARING THEM.
You gotta figure they paid out a nice sum to the putz who did that act, and then sued because the HOT iron BURNED him.
If any ADULT is DUMB ENOUGH to pour gas on a fire or use it like lighter fluid, that’s just nature’s way of weeding out those who shouldn’t procreate…..
This is an area where I truly agree with “Survival of the Fittest”.
It’s not as if you need to be a Mensa candidate to operate a gas can…….until NOW, of course.
Take a look at the tort reform they’ve enacted in Texas, putting a HUGE dent in frivolous lawsuits.
It’s time for the legislators and courts to quit using the tort system as a lottery or a way to punish businesses who have ZERO liability, as in your gas can example!
Yeah, I touched on the Texas tort laws a month or two ago. They’re working, just as you said.
And you’re right:
these are cases where tort reform would have likely prevented the suit from ever being filed, if the plaintiff knew they’d be on the hook for the bill when the case went South.
This simply MUST be changed. We have a dynamic society and economy that is based on risk. When you attempt to regulate and legislate risk OUT of existence, there is only one direction where the society can go.
What’s needed is Anti-Slapp legislation.
The Brett Kimberlins of the world necessitate that, as well, Mr G.
But lawsuits like the one above are killing us, just from a different direction.
Lawsuit abuse takes several forms: they are all despicable.
Unfortunately, I had to sue an insurance company several years ago when i broke my hip at work. Sometimes I think the insurance companies and lawyers are in cahoots because to get a decent settlement out of the insurance company, you have to hire a lawyer and then give them a third of the settlement. ( The insurance companies could save money in the long run by giving a decent settlement from the start instead of trying to lowball all the time.)
There are some that conduct business that way. Thank God I didn’t work for such a company.
I’ll be happy to bore you someday about exactly how an insurance company is supposed to indemnify its clients. 😉
If they were unreasonable, you had every right to sue. Sad that it comes to that, but there you go…….
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