A $2,050,000 confidential settlement was obtained for a family whose two boys were injured when a gas can exploded. It was a fall afternoon, and the children were playing in the backyard with two male cousins. It was a cold evening. The oldest boy, who was 13 years old at the time, decided to build a campfire.
The boys gathered a pile old dead leaves and sticks from the woods. Unable to start the fire with just a match, the older boy got a gas container, poured a small amount of gas into a cup, used the cup to pour gas on the pile, then put a little bit on the end of stick, lit the stick with a cigarette lighter and used the stick to light the fire.
He set the gasoline can down within a couple of feet of the fire. After a few minutes, he walked toward the back of the house, a distance of about 100 feet. Before he got there, he heard an explosion and turned to see the other 11-year-old boy on fire.
All the witnesses to this accident were children. As you’d expect, there were some small discrepancies about the details — exactly how close the gas can was to the fire, for example, how long it had sat there before the explosion happened. But these children told a very consistent story, through several interviews and their depositions. The gist of it was, that as the fire grew larger, the 11-year-old became concerned that the gas can was too close to the fire. He picked it up to move it, and as soon as he did, it exploded in his hands.
Martin & Jones attorney claimed that the gas can manufacturer was negligent, because the gas can as it was designed and manufactured was unreasonably dangerous. The accident could have been prevented, and hundred more like it, by a flame arrester that would have cost just a few cents to install.
The young boy was burned on 45 percent of his body, underwent many surgeries and was hospitalized for six weeks. He will require medical treatment for the rest of his life.
The older boy, who was farther away from the explosion, was also injured. He was treated for burns to his face, arms and legs.