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December 27, 2012

U.S. Chamber Film Spotlights How Lawsuits Closed a Manufacturing Icon

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today announced the release of a first-of-its-kind short film spotlighting the last week in business for portable gas can manufacturer Blitz USA before frivolous lawsuits forced it to close. The short film, viewable at FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org, marks the campaign’s most aggressive effort to date in chronicling the toll lawsuit abuse takes on American small businesses and jobs.

“Blitz USA’s closure is emblematic of the real life consequences of lawsuit abuse because it was the largest company in its field, an anchor in its community, and provided 117 American manufacturing jobs,” said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard. “Sadly, when plaintiffs’ lawyers sense vulnerability, it can set off a feeding frenzy of lawsuits and settlements that can cripple an employer and cost people their livelihoods in the process.”

The short film is the centerpiece of a national media campaign starting this month and running into 2013.

At its peak, Blitz USA, the 50-year-old producer of three out of every four portable gas cans nationwide, employed 350 people in the small town of Miami, Oklahoma. But over the last decade, a wave of costly litigation took its toll, and lawsuits finally drove the company out of business.

As the cases mounted and Blitz was forced to empty more than $30 million from its coffers in defense and damage fees, the company had to declare bankruptcy, forcing its 117 employees out of work and sending more than 400 people into the community without health insurance.

ILR initiated the Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign to make the public more aware of the personal consequences that litigation brings to communities.

Since the site launched, Faces of Lawsuit Abuse videos have been viewed more than 10 million times, and garnered over 500 million paid advertising impressions since the campaign began.  Some videos will be reformatted to run as 30 second TV ads, and some have been featured as movie theater trailers to run before feature films on nearly 300 screens.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

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