Pennsylvania Mother Sues over Son’s Fatal Fire at Gas Pump

August 5, 2010

A woman sued Toyota Motor Corp., BP America Inc. and others, claiming their actions contributed to a March fire at a gasoline pump that killed her son.

The wrongful-death and product liability action filed in Philadelphia by Lisa Rickenbach claims that flaws in the gas pumps and the Toyota Yaris that Luther David Byers was driving helped cause his death.

It also alleges that the gas station in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania suburb Camp Hill should not have been operating without an attendant on duty. The fire occurred at about 3 a.m.

The coroner has said that Byers, 19, died when he suffocated from hot gas generated by the fire, which a state police fire marshal has said was sparked by static electricity. The lawyers who filed the lawsuit said they expected to get access to security camera footage of the fire that could help clarify what happened.

Among the other 13 defendants are entities associated with Toyota and BP, the gas station franchisee and the company that manufactured the gas pump nozzle. Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons declined to comment, and a message left Tuesday for BP corporate communications was not immediately returned.

Stewart Eisenberg, the lawyer for Rickenbach and Byers’ estate, said there have been hundreds of similar fires in the United States.

“The oil and gas industry, and the automotive industry, are well aware of this phenomenon that’s been going on for many years,” he said. “It’s certainly something that they know about and they don’t warn people about or warn them sufficiently.”

Eisenberg said Byers had been working at FedEx and planning a career in law enforcement.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.