Retailer's propane refill causes fire; severe burns to customer's legs. $3.1 million. Orange County.


Propane ignites as barbecue tanks are being refilled.

The Case

  • Case Name: Sysak, et al. v. Western Propane Services, Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: Orange County Superior Court / 30-2015-00805994-CU-PP-CJC
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, November 10, 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, August 24, 2015
  • Type of Case: Fire or Explosion
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Randall J. Sherman
  • Plaintiffs:
    Michael Sysak, 35.
    Claudia Sysak, 38.
  • Defendants:
    Western Propane Services, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $3,112,843.10
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Plaintiff Michael Sysak $3,087,843.15

    Plaintiff Claudia Sysak $25,000

  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical expenses: $407,828.15

    Past wage loss: $42,015

    Future medical expenses: $75,000

    Future wage loss: $63,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Michael's Past noneconomic loss: $1,500,000

    Michael's Future noneconomic loss: $1,000,000

    Claudia's Spouse’s past noneconomic loss: $25,000

    Claudia's Spouse’s future noneconomic loss: $0.00

  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant waived appeal in exchange for waiver of costs.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Banafsheh, Danesh, & Javid PC by Shawn J. McCann and Lauren E.S. Horwitz, Beverly Hills.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Hogan Lovells US LLP by Barry J. Thompson and James J. Ward, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Michel Brones, M.D., plastic surgery, Los Angeles.

    Lawrence Miller, M.D., physiatry, Santa Monica.

    Jan Roughan, life care planning, Monrovia.

    Lester Zackler, M.D., neuropsychiatry, Sherman Oaks.



  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Patty Hedrick, R.N., life care planning.

    Ronald Podell, M.D., psychiatry, Los Angeles.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    David Weiner, Ph.D., economics, Los Angeles.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On July 3, 2015, plaintiff Michael Sysak went to Western Propane Services Inc. to fill the propane canisters for his barbecue. Mr. Sysak presented the canisters to Raymond Rogers, an employee of Western Propane Services. During the filling process, propane was accidentally released in the area where Mr. Sysak was standing. The propane ignited, resulting in a flash fire that burned Mr. Sysak’s lower legs and forearms.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Michael Sysak and his wife, Claudia Sysak, allege that Western Propane Services negligently caused the fire. As a result of the fire, plaintiff Michael Sysak suffered physical injury, lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and psychological injury. Plaintiff Claudia Sysak is married to Mr. Sysak and brought a claim for loss of consortium.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant Western Propane Services disputed the cause and extent of plaintiffs’ damages.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff Michael Sysak suffered from both first and second degree burns to his left forearm and third degree burns to his calf area. He also underwent a skin grafting operation.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $407,828.15
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $75,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $42,015
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $63,000

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $5,000,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: For Claudia Sysak: $50,000. For Michael Sysak: $1,100,000.