When Mark Lopez was a child, he did not think about the asbestos exposure he was subjected to every time he visited his father and grandfather at work. Nor did his family think about the asbestos that drifted through the company-owned town where they lived, or the asbestos that his father brought into their home each day after working at the Hillshire Brands Company sugar refinery.
It was that asbestos exposure that led to his diagnosis with malignant mesothelioma at the age of 59, and to his death two years later when he was 61. Lopez was survived by his wife Lannette and his children Pilar and Seth who were twenty years old when he was first diagnosed with the rare and fatal asbestos-related disease. The family filed suit against the company, accusing them of negligence in exposing him to the carcinogenic material. Upon hearing the evidence, a California jury awarded the family nearly $2 million in economic damages and $11 million in noneconomic damages.
Evidence in Mesothelioma Lawsuit Details Extensive Asbestos Exposure and Company’s Negligence
In presenting their case against the company that had employed Lopez’ father and grandfather and provided housing for his family, the widow and children’s representatives presented detailed information about the long history of asbestos, and of California’s various laws and acknowledgments of its dangers. They also told the story of the Union Sugar Company where the family members worked, and how the company used asbestos insulation on pipes located throughout the refinery, about the dust that was constantly raised, and about the work clothes that the workers rarely changed before heading home to work. They told of how Lopez’s mother had a damaged hand due to childhood polio, and how he had helped her with laundering his father’s work clothes and played in the dump that the company in which the company disposed of old asbestos.
Though the company argued against their responsibility for the illness, the jury agreed with the family that at the time of Lopez’ exposure, other companies were already removing asbestos because of its known dangers and that as a result, they should be held liable for his death.