Motion for new trial denied in Union Sugar case

On October 24, 2017, attorneys for Hillshire Brands Co. failed to get a new trial in the Union Sugar plant asbestos case.

In August 2017, an Alameda County jury held Hillshire Brands Co. (now part of Tyson Foods) liable for the death of 61-year old Mark Lopez in 2015. The jury awarded $13 million to the family of the late Mr. Lopez, who contracted mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos in debris dumped near the plant.

Hillshire Brands Co. solely liable

This case is unusual in that Mark Lopez was never an employee of Union Sugar, nor did he work with asbestos, as do most victims of mesothelioma. Rather, he lived near the plant between 1954 and 1964 and regularly played on empty ground on which Union Sugar employees deposited pipe insulation containing asbestos. In addition, attorneys for the Lopez family asserted that Mark Lopez was exposed to asbestos on the clothing of his father who worked at the plant.

Hillshire’s attorneys attempted and failed to apportion liability to the manufacturers of the pipe insulation and other asbestos-containing debris dumped near the Union Sugar plant. These manufacturers included Johns-Manville, Fibreboard/Pabco, Anchor Packing and Garlock.

The Union Sugar litigation underscores the complexity of many mesothelioma cases. As this case indicates, significant compensation may be available for victims of mesothelioma and their families. They should speak with law firm that has the experience, knowledge and resources needed to prevail in asbestos-related litigation.

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