Hillshire Farms found responsible for asbestos exposure

11 Sep 2017 by under News

800px Bauer Elementary ASBESTOS 2 100x100 Hillshire Farms found responsible for asbestos exposureLast week Hillshire Brands Co. was found responsible for the death of Mark Lopez, 60, from due to asbestos exposure caused by the company.

Though Lopez never worked at the Union City Sugar Refinery, his father and grandfather did while he was growing up, exposing him to asbestos secondhand. Secondhand or take-home exposure occurs when workers transfer asbestos fibers to their homes on clothing, tools, vehicles, etc., potentially exposing family members to carcinogenic materials. Lopeiz also lived in Hillshire-owned housing in Betteravia, a small company town near the refinery, that contained asbestos.

Lopez was, “exposed to asbestos fibers emitted during the operation, maintenance, disposal and other activities at the Union Sugar Refinery, which caused friable asbestos fibers to contaminate the area surrounding the plant, including company housing,” court documents state.

According to the Northern Record, the jury deliberated for 10 minutes before awarding $11 million in non-economic damages and about $2 million for economic damages. “It was a slam dunk case,” Jeff Kaiser, the plaintiff’s attorney, said. “The family would like closure after 3 1/2 years of litigating and have maybe two more years to handle an appeal. They will just be patient.”

Asbestos was once used in a variety of industrial processes for its flexibility and heat resistance. It is now known to cause diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that affects the lining of internal organs. As in the Lopez case, it can take decades to develop after initial exposure, meaning a child exposed to asbestos might not develop any health issues until middle age.

Hillshire Brands plans to appeal the ruling.


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