@pierceography We must just hold the camera differently. Not that I've ever thought about it until last night, but in looking at it now, I brace my thumb left against the body of the camera to steady it and zoom with my middle and pointer fingers. My thumb doesn't move much. And it's right on the lens release. Testing it here at my desk, I'm having a hard time replicating it too. As we all know, though, shooting at a job is a lot different than testing at home.
That must be a fairly unique way of holding your camera. I'd probably recommend you try something different. ;-)
I generally grip my camera with my thing and middle finger (left hand) around the zoom ring. With such large hands, they the tip of my thumb and middle finger are about an inch apart on my 24-70mm ii. I've never had a problem with accidentally hitting the lens release button, but after hearing your experience I'm probably going to be a little more conscious about it.
But we all have our quirks with how we hold our gear. Myself, for instance -- I have the regular Canon strap around my neck, and when I'm not holding the camera to my eyes, I'll hold it with my left hand by the lens with the strap still around my neck. Reason being that I'm overly paranoid about my lens bumping something, or even possibly detaching from the body. This way, if that were ever (no matter how unlikely) to happen, the camera would be secured by the neck strap and the lens by my hand. Yeah, I'm weird.
But seriously... A real bummer about your 24-70mm. :-(