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California jury orders Chevron to pay $21M for cancer claims

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A Northern California jury ordered Chevron Corp. to pay the families of two brothers who died of cancer a combined $21.4 million after concluding the company failed to properly warn the men about the dangers of a toxic solvent they worked with at a company-owned tire factory.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Contra Costa County jury’s verdict Friday came after three days of deliberations and four weeks of trial.

The jury concluded that the solvent benzene caused the cancers that killed brothers Gary Eaves and Randy Eaves. The brothers worked at a tire manufacturer in Arkansas owned by Unocal for decades. San Ramon, California-based Chevron purchased Unocal in 2005. Both brothers at times worked as a “spray booth operator” responsible for spraying the solvent on tires. Gary also hauled tires coated in benzene.

Gary died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015 at age 61. Randy died of leukemia in 2018, also at age 61.

The families’ lawyer Mary Alexander argued that none of the plant workers wore respirators or protective clothing while working with the solvent. Alexander also argued that workers were never advised to handle benzene inside of a ventilation booth.

The families of the men filed their wrongful death lawsuit in the San Francisco suburb of Contra Costa County where Chevron is based.

Chevron said it is mulling its next legal step.

“We do not believe that Unocal had any role in the claimed injuries and we are evaluating the jury’s decision and the court’s rulings in this matter,” the company said in a statement.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com

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