Dunno about the US.
IANAL, only a law student.
Here in New South Wales, Australia the common law elements of negligence are that:
- A duty of care was owed
- The duty was breached
- In a way that caused damage
- And that damage was reasonably foreseeable, not far-fetched or fanciful, and a reasonable person in the place of the defendant would not have taken precautions to have mitigated the risk of damage.
(I’m not even gonna drag in the Civil Liabilites Act NSW 2002 because just…no.)
So in essence, in a round about way, there is. The manufacturer owes a duty of care not to create product that can hurt people if it’s misused, IF it is reasonably foreseeable and not far-fetched or fanciful that the product would be used that way. If a reasonable person could have foreseen the gas can could have been used in the way it was - even if it was misuse, if that misuse was something the defendant knew was common behaviour - then yes, they should have made the gas can so that it couldn’t be used that way.
On the other hand. in my jurisdiction (and shortcutting it down a lot), the defendant has a duty to take care. Therefore, if they knew what they were doing was misuse or dangerous, and a reasonable person in the place of the plaintiff would not have done what the plaintiff did, there may be proprotional liability or the defendant may be off the hook entirely.
So, if you do something so stupid it was either beyond the contemplation of the person who owes the duty of care (in the case, to manufacture a gas can that is safe to use and sell), or you do take steps to protect yourself and mitigate any risks that a reasonable person in your position would take (OMG FIRE LET’S POUR GAS ON IT!) then you lose. That may be a roundable way of defining stupidity.
Insofar as the seller of the goods is concerned, they may be protected already if there’s a warning label on the gas can (Don’t pour this in the fire). You’d basically have to prove the seller knew the buyer’s intentions and failed to warn, I’d think, before you could affix liability and even then, you fall back on the duty to take care of the buyer.