Defense Verdict For Manufacturer Of Gas Can That Exploded, Caused Death, In Iowa Federal Product Liability Action
On Feb. 8, 2013, James Wurster was attempting to burn trash in a burn barrel when a portable plastic gasoline container exploded and caused Wurster to sustain severe burns. Wurster died on Feb. 9, 2013. The Plastics Group, Inc. d/b/a Wedco and/or Wedco Moulded Products Company manufactured the gasoline container, a Model W520 gasoline can.
On Dec. 16, 2014, the Estate of James Wurster, by Judith Wurster, its administrator, and Judith Wurster, individually, filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa alleging strict liability – design defect, strict liability – inadequate instruction/failure to warn, negligence, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, and violations of the Consumer Product Safety Act. The action was brought against The Plastics Group and Dow Chemical Canada, Inc.
The court granted Dow's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on Oct. 6, 2015.
After a jury trial presided over by Senior Judge Charles R. Wolle, the jury rendered a verdict on April 12, 2017. The jury found that The Plastics Group was at fault in failing to warn but did not sell a defectively designed gas can. However, the jury also determined that James Wurster was at fault, finding him 55% at fault and The Plastics Group 45% at fault. Judgment was entered in favor of The Plastics Group and against Judith Wurster the following day. According to defense counsel, the Estate claimed that the explosion was caused by the lack of a flame arrestor on the gas container and plaintiff requested $17.5 million in damages.
Plaintiff was represented by Kenneth McClain, Lauren McClain, and Timothy Kingsbury of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, P.C. The Plastics Group d/b/a Wedco was represented by David Matthews and Alan Holcomb of Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn and Dial and Jeff Wright of Heidman Law Firm. Dow was represented by Ross Johnson and Ryan Howell of Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP.
The case is The Estate of James Wurster, by Judith Wurster, its administrator, and Judith Wurster, individually, v. The Plastics Group, Inc. d/b/a Wedco and/or Wedco Moulded Products Company and Dow Chemical Canada, Inc.
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