California Jury Awards $107 Million in Mesothelioma Case Against Union Carbide

Dean Omar Branham Shirley, LLP represents family of deceased janitor, father of four young children 

TORRANCE, Calif. – A jury in Los Angeles County Superior Court this week was unanimous in finding that Union Carbide Corp. acted with malice in the asbestos-related death of a 45-year-old janitor and awarded his family $107 million. The jury also found Elementis Chemicals and E.F. Brady Co. Inc. negligent.

Joel Hernandezcueva of Long Beach, a father of four young children, died in 2014 from pleural mesothelioma, a terminal cancer his treating physicians testified is caused only by asbestos exposure.

Mr. Hernandezcueva worked as a janitor at Park Place complex in Irvine, Calif., where wall compound with Union Carbide’s asbestos was part of the construction. During renovations, Mr. Hernandezcueva was called on to clean up dust and was exposed to asbestos fibers.

“Joel never knew he was being exposed to Union Carbide’s asbestos, but the company knew that Joel and others were being poisoned,” said Los Angeles attorney Benjamin Adams of Dean Omar Branham Shirley LLP, who along with attorneys Rachel Gross and Jonathan George represented the Hernandezcueva family.

“The company did a calculation,” said Dean Omar partner Jessica Dean. “It calculated the costs of settling future cancer claims from its poison and decided that operating its asbestos mine at ‘constant capacity’ and selling over 863 million pounds of it was worth the future lawsuits.”

The case was filed in 2011 and first tried in 2013. Two prior rulings favored the defendants, but in each case, attorneys for Mr. Hernandezcueva were successful in having appellate courts overturn them. The jury’s verdict includes $32 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. When entered, the judgment may include tens of millions of dollars in interest.

“For decades, Union Carbide told its customers its asbestos was ‘different,’ ‘innocuous,’ and ‘not harmful,’ while its internal corporate documents revealed the truth: thousands – people such as Joel – would die,” Mr. Adams said.

The case is Joel Hernandezcueva, et al., vs. American Standard Inc., et al. case No. BC475956.

Dean Omar Branham Shirley, LLP, is a nationally recognized trial firm that handles cases across the country for individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries or have died as a result of irresponsible conduct of others. For more information, please visit 


Media Contact:

BeLynn Hollers


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