We recently shared with you the unfortunate news that lawsuits burned down another company – Blitz USA was forced to close its doors on July 31st after 46 years of business. The gas can maker was ultimately sued into bankruptcy, after numerous lawsuits from misuse of their product bled the company dry. Since we shared this story, there has been alternating disputes from both sides of the argument. Opinion pieces from both the trial lawyers who sued the company and Darren McKinney of the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) were displayed side by side last week in the Wall Street Journal.
The lawyers assert that Blitz produced a faulty product, missing important safety elements, stating “A strong and effective civil justice system provides accountability when dangerous products harm consumers. Look no further than Blitz for proof that this is needed.”
ATRA advocate Darren McKinney spoke to the larger issue, “Surely those who are genuinely injured by actual negligence or recklessness of another must have access to our courts for fair and prompt recompense. But allowing gas-can makers to be sued out of business because a few people handled gasoline imprudently is to willfully burn down America’s economic house.”
Just this week, the now former CEO of Blitz USA, Rocky Flick, spoke out in his own WSJ opinion piece, setting the record straight. “The authors state accidents happened because our gas cans were defective. In fact, accidents happened because gasoline is flammable.”
The fact is that reasonable limitations on liability could have saved Blitz. And while Blitz is certainly not the first American company to be bankrupted by lawsuits, it just may be the wakeup call we all need – the canary in the coal mine, if you will. The rising cost of lawsuits cannot continue unabated without serious consequences. Litigation makes America companies less competitive, drives up prices to consumers, are costs our communities jobs. The growing sentiment that everybody deserves monetary compensation for any wrong, regardless of common sense factors – for example, that handling gasoline is inherently dangerous – will only perpetuate a culture where those with lawyers benefit at the expense of society on the whole. Should we lock the doors to the courts? Of course not – but a little common sense could go a long way.