Libby, Montana, included one of the nation’s largest vermiculite mining sites. In the years since the mines closed, thousands of former workers, their spouses and residents have developed mesothelioma, the deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust. Thousands have died from asbestos-related diseases.
The Libby mining operation remains one of the largest man-made environmental disasters in the nation’s history.
Hundreds of cases consolidated
There are currently over 600 personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Montana district courts involving asbestos. In 2001, when state legislators realized the extent of the disaster in Libby, they authorized the creation of a special asbestos court to speed up the lawsuits. It was not until November 28, 2017, that the Montana Supreme Court created it. They hope that a special court overseeing these cases will speed their resolution.
Many cases expected to settle out of court
Many of the pending cases are expected to settle. The causal relationship between mesothelioma is well-established, and the scientific and medical community has been aware of the danger of asbestos dust for nearly a century.
W.R. Grace & Company was responsible for the mining operations in Libby beginning in the 1960s. The company knew that vermiculite mining was exposing workers and nearby residents to asbestos, but put profit ahead of the safety of workers and nearby residents. They did not warn workers and residents of the danger and continued mining the valuable mineral.
Libby residents still dealing with the aftermath
Many of the hard-working miners and residents of Libby, Montana, have suffered greatly because of exposure to asbestos. Countless families have had to deal with the unexpected and preventable loss of a loved one.
As these cases move through Montana’s asbestos claims court, the victims will hopefully get a measure of closure and the financial help they need.