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Fowler Associates Labs



Static Fire Stories Articles & Technical Papers Current News
Press Release
Source: Dixon & Truman

Static Electricity Case Settles for $4.4 Million; Settlement Secured by Las Vegas Law Firm, Dixon & Truman

Tuesday August 20, 2002

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 20 An outcome celebrated by public safety advocates: the defendants -- a major oil company, gasoline retailer and bed liner manufacturer -- were teamed against a regular Austin, Nevada citizen. If only every citizen could know what the defendants knew, and what the plaintiff learned the hard way.

On a February afternoon in 1999, James Reiland drove his pick-up truck to the neighborhood gas station to refill his portable metal gas cans. He was completely unaware of the extreme danger posed by his truck's bed liner. As he filled the gas can, static electricity generated by gas flow through the hose and nozzle, built-up around the can which was insulated by the plastic bed liner. The build-up of static charge on the gas can grew so large that it jumped back to the nozzle, igniting the gasoline fumes, followed by the gas can.

In trying to fight the fire, gas spilled on Reiland and he caught fire while his wife looked on in horror. Reiland suffered second and third degree burns over 30 percent of his body and paid more than $160,000 in medical bills as a result of the accident.

Afterwards, the Reiland's asked for an explanation of why the gasoline caught fire. When their requests fell on deaf ears, they turned to the Las Vegas law firm of Dixon & Truman for help. In addition to the physical recovery Reiland would endure, he was now faced with another haunting realization. He learned that a combination of major corporations -- oil companies, gasoline retailers and bed liner manufactures -- were aware of the static electricity dangers inherent in refueling as Reiland had done. In this case, Dixon & Truman's research showed that the oil company knew of the static electricity hazard but failed to inform its consumers.

After a second mediation with the parties involved, before presenting the case to a jury, Dixon & Truman attorneys secured for Reiland a $3 million settlement from the oil company, $750,000 from the oil company's retailer, and approximately $600,000 from the other defendants combined.

Dixon & Truman has developed a national reputation for prosecuting static electricity cases such as this. Bob Renkes, an expert deposed in the case, acknowledged that "Dixon & Truman knows more about static electricity caused fires than any law firm I know of." Renkes is the executive vice president of the Petroleum Equipment Institute in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dixon & Truman is currently working on a static electricity case in Montana, and surprisingly, there are hundreds of these cases pending around the country.

The Las Vegas firm of Dixon & Truman is a full-service law firm committed to zealous advocacy. Sincere concern and practical experience combine to serve as hallmarks of the firm and its attorneys. Practice areas include serious injury, asset protection and construction law.

In addition to its Las Vegas practice, the firm operates an office in St. George under the name of Dixon, Truman, Fisher and Hutchinson. With offices in Nevada and Utah, the firm is uniquely poised to handle legal issues for clients who reside in or have interests in either state. For more information, visit .


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