Jakob Norman · Brian Ward
Kevin Wright's life took a tragic turn when he built his dream house above an underground waste sump contaminated with benzene, near a residential area in Santa Maria. Unocal, also known as Union Oil, and its parent company Chevron, were found severely negligent by a Santa Maria jury for waiting 41 years to address the issue. The Plaintiff developed terminal blood cancer due to the benzene exposure and was awarded $63 million in damages. The jury awarded him $22 million for actual damages and an additional $41 million in punitive damages, symbolizing $1 million for each year Union Oil failed to comply with the state law that required cleaning up the toxic site.