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
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 DixonTruman.com