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Rant Editorial - The Downfall of Blitz

Posted in Features on November 1, 2012 Comment (0)
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It’s sad when an old company or old factory shuts its doors. It’s a little bit of history lost forever when the lights go off for the final time. No longer will products come out or employees punch in, and the buildings often remain vacant with weeds growing through the concrete.

Sometimes there are small towns whose livelihoods are attached to the company or factory. When the work leaves, so do the people. After all, what is the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, without the Hershey Company chocolate factory? Oops, nevermind; Hershey closed its doors there in 2010 due to rising costs. But you get the point. When the business stops, sometimes the towns do, too.

Insult is added to injury when the reason for a company/factory closing down is basic greed, and it’s ruined a lot of lives since the idea of “free money” came about. This time it came in a suit and tie, holding a briefcase filled with papers filed for a tort lawsuit.

In June, Blitz U.S.A.—the largest fuel can maker in the country—filed for bankruptcy. Soon it will have to stop its business and all 117 of the company’s employees will no longer have jobs. It’s not because the company was doing poorly. Quite the opposite, actually. Blitz—a company first in business under the name U.S. Metal Containers until 1992—was doing upwards of $60 million per year in business. In 1966 the company was the only gas-can manufacturer in the United States. It currently holds about 75 percent of the fuel-can market share.

Unfortunately for Blitz, its success would make it the easiest target. Over the past couple years, the company has been slammed with one tort lawsuit after another, as other sharks smelled blood from the first bites. A quick Internet search will lead you to the responsible trial attorneys’ websites and stories of triumphs against Blitz, boasting about how much money they’ve extracted from the company.

Other companies have been sucked into the tort suits against Blitz, as well. Walmart—a large vendor of the Blitz fuel cans—is also involved. I’m guessing that Pa’s Outback Fuel and Feed Store would have been sued for selling the cans, too, if they made billions like Walmart.

The tort suit is regarding the ignition of the fuel cans and death or injury of people using it. Basically, some individuals have poured gas out of gas cans onto fires, and the cans have ignited, either severely injuring or killing these individuals.

I’m guessing you’ve seen actions like this before or have even done it yourself. That being said, I’m also guessing that you know this is not at all the intended use for these plastic fuel cans, and they were never designed to hold campfire igniter. (This is where common sense comes into play and recklessness can cost dearly.) Plastic gas cans are meant solely to fill up fuel tanks that are connected to internal combustion engines. Using them to pour fuel over fire is literally taking your life in your own hands. When an individual does something like this, are they not responsible for their own actions...unless someone was holding a gun to their head and telling them to pour the fuel?

The argument has been made that Blitz does not put a fire suppressant piece in the nozzle of the fuel can and so it’s financially responsible for the injury or death of people who improperly used the fuel cans. But the cans are not supposed to be held over fire in the first place. It’s sort of like suing GM because they didn’t put life preservers in your car for that time you drove it into the lake.

I guess we just need to start doing background checks before selling people fuel cans. It will only be a 12- to 24-hour wait before you can walk out the door with your very own fuel can. Do you think that will bother stranded motorists who need to buy a fuel can, fill it, and get their cars moving again as fast as possible?

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