A prosecutor in a Montana courtroom has alleged that W.R. Grace & Co., a company that mined vermiculite in Libby, Montana, knew that its mining operation exposed residents to asbestos but hid those risks from employees and government regulators for years. Executives who work at W.R. Grace (five to be exact) and the company as a whole are charged with violating the federal Clean Air Act and obstructing an EPA investigation into the asbestos contamination at the mining company.
Naturally-occurring asbestos mineral fibers can be inhaled and cause the deadly disease, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Prosecutors claim the company and its execs caused more than 200 people to die and made more than 2,000 very ill.
The legal issue at hand is proving that the co-defendants knew of the health risks associated with the mine for the years before the regulators arrived. Defense attorneys claim there was no conspiracy to knowingly release asbestos and claim that the most of the asbestos release took place before the applicable law banned this practice in 1990.
After reports about numerous health problems in Libby, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) sent in an emergency team back in 1999 to collect information about asbestos contamination. Libby, Montana was declared a Superfund cleanup site in 2002. Prosecutors said that Libby suffers almost 80 times the national average in its death rate from asbestosis. The number of lung cancer deaths is 30% higher than what is expected.
If you have been made ill due to exposure to asbestos, or if you have lost a loved one to mesothelioma, you may have a valid legal claim. Please contact Robert W. Kerpsack, Co., L.P.A. today to schedule a confidential consultation.