Examples of Defective Product Cases Handled by the Rodgers Law Firm That Have Resulted in Favorable Recoveries for Ben’s Clients

Fuel Truck Driver Injured by Fuel Storage Tank High Pressure Explosion – Violation of OSHA Regulations

Ennis, Texas

Our client was employed as a fuel tank truck driver for a fuel company. He was scheduled to make a delivery of fuel to an asphalt plant that had a 5,000 gallon above-ground storage tank approximately 25 feet long that was used to supply fuel to the asphalt burner and to refuel plant trucks. The storage tank was subject to OSHA regulations that required that the storage tank be equipped with a relief valve which directed all vapors to an incinerator, that the tank owner ensure that the storage tank was adequately vented to prevent development of pressure, as a result of the fuel filling process, from exceeding the design pressure of the tank, and that the tank owner take steps to prevent or minimize the consequences of catastrophic releases of explosive chemicals.

American Petroleum Institute (“API”) safety standards required pressure and vacuum-relieving devices be placed on the storage tank, and that the storage tank must be regularly inspected by an “authorized inspector,” one that holds an API certification as an inspector. The owner of the asphalt plant ignored all of these regulations and safety standards for years.

The client climbed on top of the storage tank and began the process of pumping 5,000 gallons of fuel into the storage tank through a fill pipe on top of the storage tank. Without his knowledge, pressure began building inside the storage tank while the fuel was being pumped inside it. As he was nearing completion of the fuel delivery, suddenly and without warning the excess pressure that had built-up in the tank burst out of the fill pipe. The escaping high pressure air blast threw him up into the air and off the top of the storage tank, causing him to fall 10 to 12 feet to the ground at a place 12-15 feet away from the storage tank. The explosion severely injured his neck and back. Luckily he did not require surgery.

Four Year Old Boy Burned by Scalding Soup Delivered By Restaurant’s Delivery Employee

Fort Worth, Texas

Our client, a four year old boy who was a pre-kindergarden student, loved wonton soup. A local Chinese restaurant offered a free delivery service to homes in the neighborhood. On the evening of May 16 his parents phoned the restaurant and placed an order for the entire family for delivery, including wonton soup for the boy.

When the food was delivered, the mother removed the top of the styrofoam soup container and placed the soup in front of him on the dining room table. Unbeknownst to the family, the soup was exceedingly hot when poured into the styrofoam cup at the restaurant, so hot that between the time the soup was poured there and the time the lid was removed in the home, approximately 15 minutes later, the temperature had deformed the bottom of the cup so that it was unstable and more easily subject to being overturned. We know this because the parents had enough presence of mind to preserve the container the soup was delivered in.

She then left the room to take food to her husband, who was ill in bed in another room. While she was gone, our client accidentally brushed his arm against the soup container, knocking the soup into his lap. He began screaming in pain and the mother ran back into the room. She took him to the shower, undressed him and ran cold water on his lap area. He began losing skin in the burned area. She then wrapped him in a wet sheet and rushed him to the hospital.

Hospital personnel determined that he had sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his genital area and thighs. His bandages had to be changed 3 times a day for six weeks, a process that was excruciatingly painful. He missed the rest of the school year. The emotional trauma was so great that he had to undergo psychological counseling at various times over the next 3 years. Plastic surgery was ultimately performed to minimize the scarring on his thigh.

The boy’s grandmother contacted us a week later and, with the parents’ permission, hired us to represent the boy with the grandmother serving as the child’s legal representative because of potential conflicts of interest with the parents. The parents hired another attorney to represent them.

Burn medical references we checked stated that a child would sustain a 3rd degree burn in less than one second if the liquid was 155 degrees or higher. The severity of burns depends on the depth, area and location of the burn. Burn depth is generally categorized as first, second or third degree.

A first degree burn is superficial and has similar characteristics to a typical sun burn. The skin is red in color and sensation is intact. It is usually somewhat painful.

Second degree burns look similar to the first degree burns; however, the damage is severe enough to cause blistering of the skin and the pain is usually more intense.

In third degree burns the damage has progressed to the point of skin death. The skin is white and without sensation.

The question became: How do we prove the temperature the soup was when it was delivered by the restaurant delivery service on May 16? We hired an investigator to be present in the home on May 27 when the parents would again order the wonton soup. The investigator would video all aspects of the delivery and temperature testing of the soup.

The delivery service was videoed delivering the soup to the home. The video was continued inside the home as the delivery bag was opened, the soup container taken out, the top removed, and a heat thermometer was placed inside the soup container, the kind used to test the temperature of meat roasting in an oven.

The video of the thermometer proved that the soup had reached the house on May 27 at a temperature of 165 degrees when the container was opened. The accuracy of this video to prove the soup temperature was dangerously high was not challenged by the defendants when presented to them later during the lawsuit.

Suit was brought against the restaurant for serving soup dangerously hot without warning the parents of the dangerously high temperature – the parents would then have known to pour the soup into another container and let it cool for a few minutes before serving it and no one need be injured.

At his deposition the restaurant owner, an engineer by training, admitted knowing that the soup was routinely poured into the container at a very high temperature, and this was deliberately done to prevent complaints that the soup was too cool when delivered to the home. The top of the delivery bag was always stapled together and a restaurant menu was stapled to the top.

He had no reasonable response when asked why he did not also merely staple a note on top of the menu warning the customer that any soup inside was very hot to prevent the need to reheat the soup and should be checked for proper serving temperature. Each warning note would cost less than five cents to print.

Suit was also brought against the styrofoam container manufacturer, a nationally known company, on the grounds that the container was a defective product and the manufacturer did not warn the restaurant that the container would deform if liquids higher than 140 degrees were put in the container, a fact known to the manufacturer.

Amusement Park Customer Injured By Defectively-Designed Water Inner Tube Ride

Arlington, Texas

Our client, a slender built woman in her 40’s and her friend went to a water amusement park in Arlington, Texas. One of the rides they chose used large inner tubes, capable of holding up to six passengers, that were sent down a water slide starting at the top of a 70-foot tower and then zoomed over a 300-foot, triple-dip, bouncing course.

The ride had a sign stating “600 Pound Limit” to limit the total weight of all passengers riding in each inner tube to 600 pounds. The park ride attendants were responsible for directing riders as to where to sit and how many could sit in each inner tube.

Our client, her friend, and two very large men, each weighing at least 250 pounds, were instructed by the ride attendant to sit in the same tube. Our client questioned the ride attendant as to why he was not following the posted weight restriction, because the total weight of all four riders seemed to be well over 600 pounds. The ride attendant replied to the effect that it was “its ok, we do it all the time.”

Accepting this reassurance, our client then sat in the innertube, along with the other three passengers. She grabbed the handles of the ride and waited for the others to be
seated. Once the four passengers were seated, the attendant then attempted to send the tube to the release area. However, the tube was so heavy that it would not float over the lip of the loading pool. The ride attendant asked the men to bounce up and down so that they could clear the lip of the pool to go down the slide.

The tube went down the slide and, as she went over the first dip, she was bounced very high, which caused her to become alarmed for her safety and to tighten her grip on the handles of the tube at the bottom of the tube.

As she went over the second slide dip, the tube suddenly made very unusual and unexpected movements, which caused her to be forcefully thrown from the tube and upward several feet into the air. When she came down, she slammed into the side of the slide, landing on her rear end.

She was then washed all the way down the slide by the rapidly flowing water and into the unloading pool at the bottom of the slide. As she came up out of the water, she saw the tube she begin the ride in pass by her in the unloading pool carrying only the two large men. Her friend had also been ejected from the tube.

She suffered a fractured coccyx in the accident, a very painful condition that can last for years. Discovery showed that two other injury lawsuits had been filed before our client’s accident for the same problem with the ride – being forcefully thrown from the ride in a way that caused severe injuries.

Amusement Park Customer Injured By Defectively-Designed Toboggan Water Ride

Arlington, Texas

Our client, a woman in her late 20’s, visited the same water amusement park in Arlington, Texas that was visited by our client described above. She was injured at the end of a 45-foot water slide ride when the toboggan she was riding in flipped after hitting the water at the end of the slide.

Her leg was pulled backward by the force of the water and her foot struck sharp rocks at the bottom of the pool, permanently injuring her hip and ankle.