California Jury Awards $13 Million in Wrongful Death Action Against Sugar Plant

The decedent, Mark Lopez, died from mesothelioma in July 2015. His family brought suit against Hillshire Brands Co., now Tyson Foods, for the decedent’s exposure to asbestos from the now derelict Union Sugar plant. The plant had several owners and closed for good in 1993. The decedent’s family alleged that the small town of Betteravia, where the plant was located and the decedent’s family lived, was contaminated with asbestos from the plant’s operations. The decedent’s grandfather and father worked at the plant. Additionally, as a young boy, the decedent played in a dump site where asbestos was taken after it was removed from the plant during bi-annual maintenance. After three weeks of testimony, the jury found the defendant negligent for the operations of the plant in the 1950’s and as a result was directly liable for the decedent’s disease and death. Hillshire argued that it was negligent or responsible for the decedent’s illness and death and plan to appeal the verdict.