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After Jury Hands Down $13 Million Award, Hillshire Brands Sues Insurer Over Bad Faith Negotiations

Posted by Michael Throneberry | Oct 18, 2017

After a California jury handed down a substantial $13 million verdict against Hillshire Brands over the company's role in the plaintiff's mesothelioma cancer diagnosis, the defendant is now the plaintiff after it sued its insurance carriers over bad faith negotiations related to the asbestos cancer trial it lost. The parent company of Tyson's Foods and one time owner of the Union Sugar plant west of Santa Maria, California seeks to recover money under its insurance policies with carriers California Casualty Co. and American Home Assurance Company.

Hillshire Brands filed its bad faith lawsuit against its insurers only days after an Alameda County jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit on behalf of their deceased family member who passed away due to mesothelioma. Their lawsuit claimed that he and other townsfolk near the Union Sugar Plant suffered from serious asbestos exposure twice a year when the company operating the plant performed renovations that sent asbestos dust into the air.

Asbestos was once commonly used in many industrial and commercial applications because of its heat resistant properties, including insulation and pipe gaskets. Unfortunately, the flaky white mineral also causes a number of serious health problems, including mesothelioma lung cancer and asbestosis. The condition affects thousands of unsuspecting Americans every year, usually decades after initial exposure.

After taking the case all the way to trial and losing, Hillshire Brands now claims that it attempted to settle the case multiple times with the plaintiff for amounts within the policy limits of insurance provided by California Casualty Co. and American Home Assurance Company. Hillshire Brands claims that its insurers failed to participate in a pair of mandatory settlement conferences with the plaintiff's attorneys and itself had no authority to negotiate a resolution to the case.

Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the insurance companies failed to provide any assistance to Hillshire Brands in preparing for a settlement prior to trial or in anticipation of a substantial jury verdict. Reports indicate that the plaintiffs also extended an offer to settle the claim within Hillshire Brands' policy limits, but the two insurance companies refused the resolution. What comes next could be a prolonged legal battle between two sides that refuse to accept liability for the harm their negligence has caused.

Arizona Mesothelioma Lawyer

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced Arizona mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

About the Author

Michael Throneberry

Attorney Michael Throneberry graduated from Purdue University with a Civil Engineering degree. He then served with the United States Army...

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