Main switch is under-rated for the commercial electric installation, failure contributes to explosion. $25.5M. Alameda County.


Self-employed electrician is called to fix flickering lights at furniture store outlet. As he changes fuse, the main switch fails and an explosion ensues, causing severe injury.

The Case

  • Case Name: Gary Mountain and Susan Mountain v. DP Electric, et al. / David Perez and Donna Perez v. Carson Madrona Company, LLC, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Alameda County Superior Court / RG17857926
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, July 10, 2023
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, May 09, 2018
  • Type of Case: Electrical Products – Negligent Installation or Maintenance
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Jeffrey S. Brand
  • Plaintiffs:
    Cross-Complainants David Perez and Donna Perez
  • Defendants:
    Carson Madrona Company, LLC (property owner)
    James L. Krasne, Trustee of the Diane Pregerson Glazer Survivor's Trust dba SanOak Management Company and the Guilford Glazer Trust of 1984 dba SanOak Management Company (property managers)
    Jeremy Blanchard (onsite manager)
    Stoneledge Furniture, LLC dba Ashley Furniture (tenant)
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $25,500,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $25,500,000
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    50% against Carson Madrona Company, LLC

    50% against James L. Krasne, Trustee of the Diane Pregerson Glazer Survivor's Trust dba SanOak Management Company and the Guilford Glazer Trust of 1984 dba SanOak Management Company

    0% against Stoneledge Furniture LLC dba Ashley Furniture

    The original plaintiff, Gary Mountain (and wife Susan), settled with Carson Madrona and Krasne Trustee of the property manager trusts in October 2022. Mountain had already dismissed his case against David Perez on April 24, 2020.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None
  • Economic Damages:

    None sought.

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    David Perez: $20,500,000

    Donna Perez: $5,000,000 (loss of consortium)

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 9 weeks
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 on all questions and 9-3 on question whether Stoneledge Furniture, LLC was negligent. 12-0 that the negligence of Stoneledge was not a substantial factor in causing the harm.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendants have said they intend to file post-trial motions.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Injijian Law Office, APC by Susie Injijian, Berkeley.

    Ulysses Law, PC by Giorgio Panagos, South Pasadena.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Borton Petrini LLP by Samuel L. Phillips, Dennis Avilucea Jr., San Jose. (For Carson Madrona Company, LLC.)

    Santana Vierra Stevenson & Harris by Gustavo Peña, San Francisco. (For James L. Krasne, Trustee of the Diane Pregerson Glazer Survivor’s Trust dba SanOak Management Company, Jeremy Blanchard and the Guilford Glazer Trust of 1984 dba SanOak Management Company and the Guilford Glazer Trust of 1984 dba SanOak Management Company, and Jeremy Blanchard.)

    Weston Herzog by Jonathon J. Herzog, Glendale. (For Stoneledge Furniture dba Ashley Furniture Homestore.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Richard F. Grossman, M.D., plastic and reconstructive surgery. (Treating physician.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):


  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    John Loud, PE, electrical engineering.

    Michael Jones, Master Electrician and code enforcement.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Brian Vandal, PE, electrical engineering and Master Electrician.

    George White, PE, electrical engineering.

    James Cantrell, CPM, CAM, property management.

    Vic Giacalone, electrical contracting.

    Mark Campana, property management.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On May 17, 2016, David Perez, a 59-year-old, self-employed electrician (dba DP Electric) was called to service flickering lights at an Ashley Furniture Homestore outlet at a multi-tenant industrial property in Oakland. While he was changing a fuse in the main switch supplying the Ashley Furniture tenancy, the switch exploded in his face, burning him and Gary Mountain, the Ashley warehouse manager, who was standing next to him. Both men suffered second- and third-degree burns.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the cause of the explosion was the switch that Perez was lawfully operating at the time of the arc flash. That the switch was underrated for use in the 480-volt panel in which it had been installed (it was rated for use in panels running up to only half that voltage) and it was unable to contain the arc.

    Moreover, because it was visually indistinct from the switches installed alongside it, it was a hidden hazard trap. The property owners and managers were real estate investors who bought the property in 1989 when it was 30 years old. They performed no inspections or preventive maintenance over the 27 years between the purchase and the arc flash explosion in 2016. They had installed the subject switch illegally, without a permit, and had made other illegal, unpermitted, and hazardous installations elsewhere on the property that also contributed to the arc flash explosion.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Perez should have diagnosed and cleared the fault downstream of the switch before operating it; Perez failed to notice that the switch was an illegal installation; Perez should have had PG&E turn off the power to the main panel where the switch was located before changing the fuse; Perez should have worn Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to change the fuse; Perez recovered fully from his injuries; per Perez’s treating physician, he made a “good” recovery from his injuries.

    Stoneledge Furniture LLC had assumed the prior tenant’s lease and moved in only six weeks before the incident. The incident occurred at the main electrical panel in the common area, which Stoneledge Furniture contended was owned and maintained exclusively by the landlord and property manager.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    David Perez suffered second and third degree burns to his face, chest, and dominant right hand and arm. He required skin grafts harvested from his right thigh. He also required multiple laser treatments to break down the scar tissue on his arm. Although he returned to working as an electrical contractor within weeks of his discharge from the hospital, he was able to do so only by delegating the work to assistants he supervises. David Perez continues to suffer from impaired use of his right hand and wrist. He suffers ongoing pain and chronic discomfort in the areas of his body that were burned or served as the donor site for his grafts. He has experienced a significantly diminished quality of life from his permanent injuries.

  • Donna Perez, David's wife, suffered a loss of support and services as a result of the injuries to her loving husband of 46 years.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Waived
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Waived
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: Waived
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: Waived

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $6.5 million
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: Waiver of costs

Additional Notes

On the afternoon/evening of the arc flash explosion, the property owners/managers hastened to bring in a crew of electricians to repair the damage, destroying all the evidence.

Gary Mountain, the Stoneledge/Ashley employee who was also burned, originally sued Perez.

Perez had no liability insurance, and so he hired one of his clients, a real estate attorney, to defend him. Perez could not find a lawyer to represent him for his own injuries. In April 2018, Susie Injijian substituted in as Perez’s defense attorney and filed a cross-complaint on his behalf and on behalf of his wife against the property owner, manager and tenant, Stoneledge/Ashley Furniture.

The landlord, property manager and tenant  joined forces against Perez through the trial.

On June 16, 2019, the property managers, James L. Krasne, Trustee of the two trusts dba SanOak Management Company and Jeremy Blanchard made a joint 998 offer to each David and Donna Perez to waive costs. 

On June 25, 2019, David Perez made separate 998 offers to each of the property managers and the property owner, Carson Madonna Company, LLC, to accept $6.5 million from any of them in exchange for complete dismissal.