The nation’s largest gas can manufacturer has closed its doors due to frivolous lawsuits at a time when Hurricane Sandy victims urgently need the containers.
The company’s closure has resulted in a shortage of gas cans for purchase or use in the disaster areas of the northeast, and in the US as a whole. Though product shortages have been commonplace in former Soviet-bloc countries, this is unusual in the US.
The company, Blitz U.S.A., is a 50-year-old American business that has closed its doors and laid off all 117 employees. Blitz U.S.A. provided 75% of all gas canisters to the US, a feat which industry insiders say is only possible when a company does everything right.
A swarm of lawsuits hit the company since last March, mostly due to injuries from individuals pouring gas directly onto a lit fire. All but two were thrown out of court for frivolity. Unfortunately, the successful outcomes for the company in the courts did not stop insurance rates from increasing to fiscally unbearable rates.
The company’s closure and the resulting lack of gas canisters could not come at a worse time for victims of Hurricane Sandy in the American Northeast. Nearly all clean-up and recovery efforts are dependent upon the now unavailable gas canisters. Everything from transportation and heavy equipment to chainsaws depend upon the canisters availability.
The assets of Blitz U.S.A have been purchased by a Toronto based company, but there are no plans for reopening the Oklahoma production plant until well into 2013.