Montana Nearing Settlement With Libby Asbestos Victims

The State of Montana is nearing a settlement with over 1,100 victims of the vermiculite asbestos mine in Libby, MT. The claimants allege that the state was negligent in its oversight of the asbestos mine in the town, which lead to thousands of residents suffering and even dying from asbestos-related diseases such as malignant mesothelioma.

The proposed settlement would total roughly $43 million and would release Montana from all asbestos liabilities past and present. It includes:

“all of its past and present departments, boards, division, agencies, officers, employees, agents, attorneys and successors, including but not limited to the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Public Health and Human Services, Department of Labor and Industry, Montana State Board of Health and the Division of Air Pollution Control and Industrial Hygiene.”

Victims would be compensated on a sliding scale, depending on the asbestos-related disease with which they are diagnosed and its severity, according to documents obtained by The Daily Inter Lake.

“The latest distribution grid shows that clients with mesothelioma, one of the most severe asbestos-related cancers, would get $60,723 in the proposed settlement. That’s before attorney fees are subtracted. Those with lung cancer and other cancers would get $51,908.”

“The grid divides asbestos disease into severe, moderate and mild cases, with payments ranging $51,908 to $34,279. There are several other disease categories, including “death due to asbestos related disease with survival and/or wrongful death claim.” Chest X-rays were required.”

When the extent of the suffering the asbestos mine caused victims came to light in the late 1990s, local courts were flooded with lawsuits against mine owners W.R. Grace. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and many lawsuits against the state were filed in the following years. They claim the Montana had knowledge of the dangers of asbestos exposure and did not inform the public of them.

“Rather than enforcing the law by compelling Zonolite and Grace to clean up its deadly operations, the state effectively became Grace’s accomplice and aided and abetted Grace’s concealment of this enormous public health problem,” a local attorney said in a lawsuit.

Court approval is required before the settlement is final.

The sad situation that has unfolded in Libby, Montana is one of the clearest examples of the connection between longterm asbestos exposure and an increased risk of developing malignant mesothelioma later in life. If you or a loved one are receiving mesothelioma treatment and would like to learn more about asbestos law, contact a mesothelioma attorney to see if there is a possibility of receiving a asbestos settlement from company or former employer.

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