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Patch-A-Flat Victim Asks Dollar General To Halt Sales

    CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas--Jan. 30, 2001--A woman who was maimed when a can of Patch-a-Flat exploded said today that Dollar General, the largest retailer of the product, "has a bomb on its shelves" and urged the store to stop selling the product. P. In June 1998, Melissa Elizondo, then 18, lost her right eye and almost lost a leg when a can of Patch-a-Flat, used for repairing flat tires, exploded while in use. Robert Perez, then 19, received severe burns and broken hands in the explosion, making it impossible for him to continue his work on an oil rig.
    On Saturday, the couple was awarded $80 million by a jury who found Patch-a-Flat unreasonably dangerous and defectively designed and that Tradco, which manufactures Patch-a-Flat, was liable for selling an unsafe product.
    "Patch-a-Flat is terribly dangerous," Elizondo said, speaking from in front of the Dollar General Store at Parkdale Plaza at 4100 S. Staples Street in Corpus Christi, Texas. "It is less expensive than similar products only because it is so dangerous. Dollar General must pull this bomb off its shelves. If they don't, more people will be injured. More people will be killed. And Dollar General will be to blame." She also read from a letter she has written to Cal Turner, Jr., CEO of Dollar General Corporation, urging him to pull the product.
    Elizondo's attorney, Anthony Constant, noted that Fix-a-Flat, a more popular flammable tire sealant, was withdrawn from the market voluntarily by Pennzoil in 1999 because it posed a danger to consumers and replaced it with a non-explosive formula. Other similar flammable tire sealants have also been withdrawn.
    Safer, non-flammable products like AirUp and RepairSafe are now available, Constant said. "But those non-flammable tire sealants and inflators cost a couple of dollars more, and Dollar General targets lower-income customers."
    Dollar General operates approximately 5,000 stores nationwide. There are eight Dollar General stores in Corpus Christi. P. Anthony Constant is a partner in the law firm of Constant and Vela, which also represents the family of Earl Shinhoster, former acting executive director of the NAACP, in their suit against Bridgestone-Firestone over a defective Firestone tire which led to Shinhoster's death last summer in a Ford Explorer rollover in Macon County, Ala.