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Nemons v. Manchester Tank & Equipment Co.

No. 02-310-B (87th Dist. Ct., Freestone County, Texas). This was a challenging products liability case that Roberts & Roberts tried for two weeks in a conservative East Texas county. The case arose out of a propane fire in a food booth at a local festival. The plaintiffs, who included the food booth vendor and her friend, died in the propane fire. The propane had been released into the air when the plaintiffs’ assistant mistakenly removed the cap on the pressure relief valve on a 100 pound propane tank with a pair of channel-lock pliers. The plaintiffs alleged that the valve was defectively designed because the cap for the pressure relief valve could be mistakenly removed. The manufacturer of the valve contended that the fire was due solely to negligence of the assistant in attempting to connect propane equipment with which he was not familiar, and the negligence of the plaintiff in supervising the installation of the propane equipment in the food booth. After a favorable result at trial, Roberts & Roberts negotiated a post-trial settlement for its clients. During this litigation, the manufacturer modified the design of its valves to include locking pins securing their caps to their valves.

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