Eaves, et al., v. Ashland, Inc., et al.

Benzene Case Fact Sheet

A California jury sided with the families of two brothers who died of cancer resulting from exposure to benzene-containing rubber solvent, awarding them $21.4M. 

Case Summary
A $21.4 million verdict against Union Oil Company was awarded by a Contra Costa Superior Court jury to the families of two brothers. The brothers each died of cancer linked to benzene exposure that occurred while they were working for a tire manufacturing plant. The brothers, Gary and Randy Eaves, worked from the 1970s to the 2000s for Cooper Tire & Rubber Company in Texarkana, Arkansas. Each man was routinely exposed to benzene-containing solvents and benzene vapors on the job. Benzene is a known carcinogen. Gary died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in 2015. His younger brother, Randy, died of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) in 2018. The jury agreed with the Eaves plaintiffs’ claim that the oil company knew that the solvents they sold contained benzene. The jury found Union Oil 58 percent liable for Gary’s and Randy’s cancers and subsequent deaths.


The exposure took place in Arkansas, but the case was tried in Contra Costa County, Calif. because it is where Chevron is headquartered. Chevron merged with Unocal, formerly known as Union Oil.


March 29, 2019
$21,385,000 total award
Liability: Union Oil 58%

Case Information

Cause No. C16-00815, Regina Eaves, et al v. Ashland, Inc., et al
Trial length: 4 weeks 2 days     Deliberation Length: 3 days


Contra Costa Superior Court, California
Hon. Henry G. Weil, presiding

Plaintiffs Experts (testimony: live/depo)

Dr. James Stewart, Ph.D., CIH, CSP – toxicology and environmental health; Newton, Mass. (live)
Robert Harrison, MD – occupational medicine; San Francisco, CA (live)
Robert Johnson – forensic economics; Los Altos, CA (live)

Defense Experts (testimony: live/depo)

Dr. Pamela Williams – environmental and occupational health; Boulder, Colo. (live)
Ethan Natelson, M.D., FACP – oncologist/hematologist, internal medicine specialist; Houston, Tex. (live)
Mark D. Van Ert, Ph.D., M.S., C.I.H. – industrial hygiene (live)
John Whysner, M.D., Ph.D., D.A.B.T. (toxicology) (live)

Plaintiffs’ Counsel

  • Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel, LLP (Los Angeles):
  • Rajeev Mittal
  • Allen Stewart, PC (Dallas):
  • Scott R. Frieling, lead trial counsel
  • Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C. (San Francisco):
  • Mary Alexander

Defense Counsel

  • Steptoe & Johnson, LLP (Los Angeles):
    Jennifer Bonneville, Jason Levin, Joo Cha Webb
  • Chilton Yambert Porter LLP (Chicago):
    Larry J. Chilton


Disclaimer – Results obtained depend on the facts of each case. Award amounts are not actual cash amounts received by plaintiffs. Deductions are made for offsets, liens, attorney fees and expenses.

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