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The Plaintiff (Decedent) was using a home , propane powered barbecue grill, when the attached propane tank allegedly suffered a catastrophic material failure, resulting in an explosion, which then caused a fire of the residence. Plaintiff obtained the subject propane tank from the Defendant Retailer, who had provided the tank as an exchange of the Plaintiff's empty tank. Defendant Retailer was not authorized by the Defendant Propane Supplier.

Plaintiff contended that the tank was improperly maintained, rusted, and damaged (including an inoperable Overflow Protection Device), such that when the tank became heated and the internal pressure increased, the tank walls failed. Defendant contended that the tank was in proper working order, and that the explosion was as a result of a leak in the (rubber) tank connection hose.

WEXCO's Product Safety Analysis Team served as the Engineering and Safety Expert, and was tasked to determine the following:

  • Responsibilities of the various Defendants relative to ensuring the safety and suitability of the subject Propane tank before allowing the product to enter the stream of commerce
  • Analysis of the remnants of the subject tank (material properties), determining the most likely condition of the subject tank prior to the time of the incident
  • Engineering analysis of the safety measures of the tank (Overflow Protection Device), and the operation of the tank, should the safety device fail.
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Dr. Stephen C. Wexler: 40 years experience in construction, construction management, safety and related. Unusual combination of safety engineering and construction and civil engineering permits separate areas within construction, safety, and premises liability. 6 years Instructor at UCLA Evening Extension in Engineering & Construction Management, and 4 years US Navy Seabees Instructor for Construction Management - Port Hueneme, CA and Gulfport, Mississippi.

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