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When products, manufactured in mass quantities, fall below the required safety standards, the aftereffects can be catastrophic. For twelve-year-old Michael Bauman, the tangible consequences of corporate negligence are being keenly felt. Sadly, his life will never be the same again.
In December of 2011, young Michael was preparing to roast marshmallows on the fire with his family, as they had done the night before. After having difficulty getting the fire started, and while his parents were not looking, Michael grabbed a nearly-empty gas can and attempted to pour some of the gas on the fire. The gas can had been manufactured by an Oklahoma based company named Blitz.
Instead of lighting the logs below, however, the gas can exploded in a ball of flames, severely burning Michael’s face, eyes, arms, legs, back and stomach. He suffered third degree burns and was required to undergo eighteen surgeries over a span of 102 days in the hospital. He also lost three fingers, due to necessary amputations.
Unfortunately, this was not the end of the young boy’s physical or emotional suffering. The scars on his face and body left him severely disfigured and in need of full time care. According to court records, Michael, now fifteen years old, still suffers from chronic pain, severe headaches, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and nightmares. Because of his disfigurement, Michael was constantly teased at school. He later dropped out. Michael is now cared for and tutored full time by his mother.
In the aftermath of Michael’s accident, and many others like it, an investigation was conducted regarding the manufacturing of defective gas cans. Numerous fire-related incidents have been reported by owners of Blitz gas cans, which have been sold regularly in Wal-Mart stores for over a decade.
Research by the Consumer Product Safety Commission has revealed that these accidents would not have occurred had the company properly installed flame arresters in each can, which would have cost about a nickel extra per can. Flame arresters are small metal screens, typically found in all gas cans, that stop flames or sparks from entering the main chamber where the gasoline is held.
A class action lawsuit filed against Blitz resulted in a $30 million payout for damages and legal fees. When the lawsuits continued to grow in number, Blitz was forced to file for bankruptcy. Afterwards, a $162 million trust fund was created by Blitz’s insurers and Wal-Mart for the remaining victims of defective gas can accidents.
Michael Bauman and his family, after joining the class action, were able to recover $2.1 million. They believe that this award does not fully reflect the extent of the damages that were suffered, and they are therefore contesting that amount in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, according to the Baumans’ Louisville, KY lawyer, Larry Jones II.
For young Michael, and all other victims and family members affected by these accidents, his life is forever changed. The blame in these accidents should be laid at the feet of the manufacturers who, in an effort to save money, have left their consumers vulnerable to brutal, life-altering damages. If you or a family member have been injured or killed by a malfunctioning or defective product, contact our Boston, MA product liability lawyers. We will work hard to make sure that you receive the compensation that you truly deserve. Your needs are our top priority!