Mom files wrongful death suit after gasoline container explosion kills son

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 29, 2007, 12:39pm

Blitz USA 5-gallon gas container

MARSHALL -- In late winter in northeast Texas, Jonathon Green was burning brush in a barrel. He attempted to pour gas on to the brush, but the gas container exploded covering Green in burning gasoline.

In an effort to save his life, Green was flown from St. Michael's Hospital in Texarkana to Arkansas Children's Hospital. However, the burns were too severe. After 29 days of treatment, 20-year-old Green died.

Jonathon's mother, Rene Green, filed a wrongful death suit against Blitz USA, Inc. on Aug. 28 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The original complaint asserts that the Blitz five-gallon portable gasoline container used by Green was unreasonably dangerous. The suit states the defendant is accountable under the doctrine of strict liability.

Specifically the suit states that the gasoline container was not designed or did not include a flash arrester (spark arrester), which is a small piece of metal placed in the opening to prevent flashback of flames into the container.

"Flame arresters were first put into industrial gasoline containers in the 1950's and into consumer gasoline containers in 1978." The suit continues, "Defendants had known or should have known for decades that its gasoline containers were susceptible to flashback, i.e., the gasoline vapors ignite, and the flames follow the vapor trail back into the can causing the can to explode and/or spew flames and burning gasoline."

Additional causes of action filed against the defendant include negligence, misrepresentation, breach of warranty, and gross negligence.

Filing for wrongful death and survival action, the plaintiff seeks damages for mental anguish, loss of consortium, loss of advice and counsel, funeral expenses, medical care and expenses, physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, and physical impairment.

Further, Rene Green seeks punitive and exemplary damages due to "defendants who manifested a flagrant disregard of the safety of persons who might be harmed by its defective product."

Self-described, Blitz states that it has been the industry leader in gas cans for over 20 years. On its Web site, Blitz illustrates safety awareness and states, "Keep [gasoline] away from flames, pilot lights, stoves, heaters, electric sources and other sources of ignition. Gasoline vapors can explode and can be ignited by a spark of flame source many feet away."

Defendant Blitz has not yet responded to the lawsuit.

Seeking jury trial, the plaintiff is represented by Matthew Flanery of the law firm Grant and Flanery from Tyler.

U.S. District Judge John Ward will preside.

Case No. 2:07cv372

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