$970,000: V.P. of Aerospace Co. Suffers 3rd Degree Burns From Overfilled Propane Cylinder
June 7, 2010
CASE DESCRIPTION: Plaintiff files suit for severe burn injuries following gas explosion during 4th of July barbeque. Plaintiff argues that gas attendant was improperly trained. Defendant argued that the accident was the result of Plaintiff’s own negligence.
RESULT: $970,000.00 total settlement
Plaintiff, a former vice president of an aerospace company, brought one of his 20 pound Worthington propane cylinders to be filled at his local Four Star Texaco gas station in preparation for the Fourth of July holiday. The cylinder was filled at the gas station by one of the station’s personnel and Plaintiff brought back the cylinder to his residence. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff, the propane cylinder was grossly overfilled.
On July 4th, Plaintiff was preparing brisket on his Sunbeam barbeque. Plaintiff lifted his barbecue lid to check on the food that he was preparing. In doing so, an explosion occurred and Plaintiff was engulfed in a ball of flames.
Plaintiff claimed that the 20 pound cylinder was overfilled by the Four Star Texaco personnel. Plaintiff claimed that the Four Star Texaco personnel were not properly trained to fill these 20 pound propane cylinders. Due to the flames from the barbecue, the propane cylinder was heated which made it expel a large amount of propane gas. The combination of the propane gas and the flames from the barbecue caused serious injury to Plaintiff.
With regards to Defendant Worthington, Plaintiff argued the 20 pound propane cylinders did not contain the proper safety devices to prevent these types of incidents. Plaintiff contended that Worthington had available an overfill prevention device that should have been implemented on their cylinders. Furthermore, Plaintiff claimed that Worthington did not adequately warn consumers against the dangers of their cylinders and that the warning in Plaintiff’s owners manual was insufficient.
With regards to Defendant Raed A., Plaintiff argued that Raed A. did not adequately train the employees at the subject gas station to properly fill 20 pound propane cylinders. Plaintiff also contended that Raed A. did not properly monitor the personnel at the subject gas station in regards to filling propane cylinders.
Defendants contended that the spare cylinder was not overfilled and that Plaintiff’s injuries were a result of his own negligence. Defendant’s contended that Plaintiff disregarded a warning in his barbecue owner’s manual that stated that spare cylinders should not be placed underneath the barbecue. Defendant Raed A. denied that the Texaco employees were improperly trained. Defendant Worthington denied that a overfill prevention device was feasible at the time Plaintiff bought his propane cylinder. All Defendants disputed the amount and extent of medical and wage loss calculations.
TYPE OF CASE: Products Liability; Negligence; Propane Cylinder
INJURIES: Second and Third degree burns to 35% of Plaintiff’s body with the majority of 3rd degree burns to the abdomen and left leg.
DATE OF INCIDENT: On 7/4/97.
PLAINTIFF’S AGE: 58 at the time of the incident.
OCCUPATION: V.P. of an aerospace company.
Wylie A. Aitken & Christopher R. Aitken
AITKEN * AITKEN * COHN
Plaintiff – Peter W.
Clifford L. Schaffer
SCHAFFER & LAX
Defendants – Raed A. d/b/a Four Star Texaco & Texaco Refining and Marketing, Inc.
Richard A. Ergo
BOWLES & VERNA
Defendant – Worthington Cylinder Corporation
Stephen Smith & Scott Zeidman
TOKA & SMITH, LLP
For Defendant – Sunbeam Corporation
FLETCHER, WHITE, ADAIR
For Defendant – Amerigas Propane, Inc.
DEFENDANT’S INSURANCE CO: AIG Raed A. d/a/b Four Star Texaco and Texaco Refining and Marketing, Inc.