Lawsuit filed against gas can maker after Texas cheerleader burned at party

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 1, 2011, 8:30am

TEXARKANA, Texas - The parents of a Texas high school cheerleader have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of a gas storage can after she suffered third degree burns when a friend attempted to pour gasoline on a camp fire.

Kenneth and Pam Crouch, individually and as next friends of Brooke Crouch, a minor, filed a lawsuit against Blitz U.S.A. Inc. on July 29 in the Eastern District of Texas, Texarkana Division.

According to the plaintiffs' complaint, the incident occurred on Dec. 18, 2009, as Brooke Crouch was sitting around a camp fire with high school friends. One of the boys attempted to rekindle the camp fire using a Blitz gas can.

Allegedly, the gasoline vapors were ignited outside of the can and flashed back inside it and exploded. Brooke was sitting across from the fire and the gasoline shot onto her hands and legs and under her cheerleading skirt causing severe third degree burns, according to the suit.

She was taken to a burn unit, required surgical procedures, skin grafting and extensive physical therapy.

The gas can manufacturer, Blitz U.S.A., is being sued for strict liability and negligence.

The plaintiffs argue that there are safer alternative designs that could eliminate the risk of the gas can exploding, including the use of a flame arrestor device or the use of a gas can closure that would prevent flammable gas fumes and liquid from escaping the can.

Blitz is also accused of failing to produce a reasonably safe can, selling a gas can that was defective, failed to contained adequate warnings and instructions, unfit for its intended and anticipated use, failed to properly test its can, failed to take remedial measures such as post-sale warnings or recall the can, failing to report incidences and lawsuits involving other consumers and for spoiling evidence.

The parents are seeking more than $75,000 in damages for personal injuries, physical pain, suffering, permanent scarring, psychological impairment, emotional distress, medical expenses, lost income, loss of earning capacity, plus exemplary damages, interest and court costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Matthew B. Flanery and Darren Grant of Grant & Flanery PC in Tyler and Diane M. Breneman and Stacey L. Dungan of Breneman Dungan of Kansas City, Mo.

A jury trial is requested.

Case No. 5:11-cv-00150

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