In a lawsuit against Southern California Gas Company and the owners of the building where he was injured, a Rosemead man was awarded almost $20 million by a jury. The gas company had admitted wrongdoing prior to the trial, and the jury was only to determine damages. Accident Details On January 19, 2011, Pengxuan “Dean” Diao was sleeping in a converted garage apartment, which he rented from Yong Sheng Li, according to lawsuit documents. An employee of Southern California Gas Company opened a natural gas valve, activating a gas line inside the garage, which was owned by Richard Liu and Joanna Cheung. Li sublet the apartment to Diao for $250 per month. The 300 cubic-square foot garage filled with natural gas which exploded when Diao awoke and unknowingly lit a cigarette. Diao received second- and third-degree burns over 20 percent of his body as well as brain damage. Gas Company Responsibility Southern California Gas Company was found liable for approximately $18 million of the lawsuit award and the owners of the home were found responsible for the almost $2 million that remained. The landlords and their tenant, Li, were brought into the lawsuit through a cross-complaint filed by the gas company, but Li was found not liable for any of the damages. Severe Injuries Diao, who was only 23 at the time of the explosion, came to the United States from China, growing up in Chengdu, an area known for its panda research and breeding center. Diao joined his father, who had been a longtime tour bus driver, in 2009, after achieving every possible educational goal he could in his native country. After the explosion, lawsuit documents say that Diao was unaware how badly he was hurt, knowing only that his “whole body” was hot. He rushed to the main house to take a cool shower and realized the severity of his injuries when the skin of his left arm “just fell off” when the water struck him. Due to his brain injuries, Diao lost his job at a tea bar as he could not remember recipes and his girlfriend left him. He is self-conscious of the scars left on his arms, leg, torso and head. His doctors say that his brain injury will more than likely cause him to suffer dementia when he is as young as 50 years old. If you or a loved one has been injured due in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, or if a loved one has died from injuries sustained in such an accident, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation. For more information on Frenkel and Frenkel, please visit our website at

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