Decedent's mesothelioma caused by father's employment. $12.9M. Alameda County.


Father brings asbestos fibers home from workplace on his clothing. Son dies as an adult.

The Case

  • Case Name: Lanette Louise Lopez, et. al., v. The Hillshire Brands Company
  • Court and Case Number: Alameda County Superior Court / RG14721622
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, August 16, 2017
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
  • Type of Case: Premises Liability, Products Liability
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Brad Seligman
  • Plaintiffs:
    Lanette Louise Lopez et. al.
  • Defendants:
    The Hillshire Brands Company
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $12,958,461
  • Net Verdict or Award: $12,958,461
  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 1/2 weeks.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 on all issues except non economic damages. 9 - 3 on non-economic damages.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Kaiser Gornick LLP by Jeffrey A. Kaiser, Walnut Creek.

    Kaiser Gornick LLP by Lawrence J. Gornick and David Markevitch, Foster City.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Swanson, Martin and Bell by Arthur Reliford and Stephen Fardy, Chicago.

    Buty & Curliano LLP by Jason Curliano, Oakland.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Allan Smith, epidemiology, Berkeley.

    Barry Horn, pulmonology, Oakland.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    John Templin, industrial hygiene.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Benjamin Heckman, industrial hygiene, Carlisle, PA.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    As a child, decedent Mark Lopez, age 61 at death, lived in employee housing owned by defendant, The Hillshire Brands Company.  The housing was located a few hundred yards from Hillshire's sugar refinery, near Santa Maria. His father worked in Hillshire's refinery for over 40 years. Decedent lived in the home from 1954 through 1972. Hillshire employees routinely worked with asbestos, without safety precautions, such that the refinery, the surrounding area, and the company homes were contaminated.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That Hillshire was negligent in its management of the refinery, the surrounding area and the houses it rented to it's refinery employees. Hillshire was negligent in how it used asbestos materials, thereby contaminating the refinery and surrounding area.  That refinery workers unknowingly took asbestos home on their clothes, exposing their families.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That decedent Mark Lopez was not exposed to asbestos from their refinery. If he was, it wasn't enough to cause mesothelioma. Hillshire was not negligent in how they used asbestos. The manufacturers of the asbestos products should share any liability.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Death caused by asbestos-related mesothelioma.