Settlement Reached After Gas Station Fire/Explosion
A settlement has been reached between a gas station owner and a woman who died after another vehicle backed into a pump. According to the lawsuit, a vehicle backed into the pump causing it to dislodge from its base and catch fire. The woman, who was with her two children at the time, was pinned between her vehicle and the pump as she burned alive. Her two children watched in horror as she died.
13 defendants were named in the lawsuit and most of those have already settled. Lawsuits against the gas station and a related company remain pending. They are likely the two parties that will be accused of contributing the most liability to the matter.
Among the allegations made by plaintiffs, a failure of safety devices resulted in the pump continuing to pump fuel even after it had been knocked from its base. Since gas is, obviously, a flammable liquid, we can mitigate the risk of fire hazards with the use of safety switches that cut power to the pump if it has been dislodged by a vehicle. Most pumps have this in place and it would have likely saved the woman’s life if this pump’s safety switches were operational.
Gas station destroys evidence
Among the allegations leveled against the gas station, perhaps the most serious is that they destroyed evidence related to the hardware that was believed to be malfunctioning during the explosion. As part of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are attempting to get a court order to prevent the destruction of further evidence.
Elements of negligence
Essentially, this case would fall under multiple potential theories of liability. However, for the gas station, the important one to know is premises liability. The gas station has a duty of care to ensure that its premises are safe for customers. In this case, the failure of safety equipment caused a woman’s death. The gas station, having a duty of care to maintain the safety equipment, is thus liable on those grounds.
Destroying the physical evidence doesn’t help the gas station, it helps the companies that manufactured the gas pumps. That lawsuit would fall under product liability. The plaintiffs can contend that the components were defective and sue the gas pump manufacturer. But now that the evidence is destroyed, the gas pump manufacturer may never face that claim. The gas station, however, is likely to pay. The terms of all settlements thus far reached are confidential.
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Palmer | Lopez files lawsuits on behalf of Tampa residents injured through acts of negligence. Call our Tampa personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can discuss more about how we can recover damages related to your medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced quality of life.