An Orcutt family has been awarded $13 million in damages by an Alameda County civil jury, which found Hillshire Brands Co., now known as Tyson Foods, liable this week in the death of Mark Lopez, who died in July 2015 from mesothelioma.

After his death, the Lopez family hired Jeffrey Kaiser, of Kaiser Gornick LLP in Walnut Creek, and filed a wrongful death suit in October 2015. The suit stemmed from an investigation that found an abandoned plant six miles west of Santa Maria, formerly owned by Union Sugar, used vast amounts of asbestos insulation as it turned beets into sugar.

The suit claimed Lopez, who was 61 at the time of his death, contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure growing up in the small company town of Betteravia, which surrounded the plant in the 1950s. 

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Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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