LITIGATION DEPARTMENT OF THE YEAR - Mid-Size Firm  ALM's Daily Report   2017 - 2016 - 2014

Defense Verdict for Gas Can Manufacturer in Wrongful Death Product Liability Case

WWHGD partners David Matthews and Alan Holcomb received a defense verdict on behalf of a large portable plastic gasoline container manufacturer in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in a product liability case in which it was alleged a product defect in a gasoline container caused an explosion that killed a successful farmer in rural Iowa.

The Estate of James Wurster claimed that the lack of a flame arrestor in all openings of the container caused a “flashback explosion” when the decedent was pouring gasoline out of the container onto a fire. The decedent suffered third degree burns over 80 percent of his body and passed away hours later. The Estate brought claims against the defendant under theories of strict product liability and negligence.

The defendant denied the Estate’s allegations, arguing that the subject container met all governmental, industry, and scientific standards at the time it was designed and manufactured. The defendant received judgment as a matter of law on the Estate’s claims of post-sale failure to warn and punitive damages.

The Estate requested $17,500,000 in damages during closing argument. Following more than a day and a half of deliberations, the jury handed a complete defense verdict to the defendant.

The plaintiff was represented by the mass tort law firm of Humphrey, Farrington, & McClain.

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