Gas blast victim awarded $20M by Los Angeles jury

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Updated: 6/25 9:46 pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury says Southern California Gas Co. must pay nearly $20 million to a man who was badly injured in a gas explosion.

City News Service says a Los Angeles jury made the award Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by 26-year-old Pengxuan "Dean" Diao.

Diao was living in a converted garage in San Gabriel four years ago when the explosion left him with severe burns and brain damage.

Authorities say a gas company employee opened a valve that filled the garage with gas and the room ignited when Diao lit a cigarette.

The company acknowledged liability. Jurors said it must pay about $18 million and Diao's landlords must pay about $2 million.

Gas company spokeswoman Denise King says the company disagrees with the size of the award.

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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