54 Million Dollar Judgment For Asbestos Contamination Affirmed By U.S. Supreme Court | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The Grace company mined asbestos beginning in the 1930s in a town called Libby, Montana, and actually supplied about 80% of the world supply of the asbestos mineral at one time. The Grace company operated the mine until 1992 but unleashed a human and environmental tragedy of untold dimension. A federal appeals court described how 12,000 residents of Libby, Montana and nearby communities faced ongoing, pervasive exposure to asbestos particles. A tremendous number of the residents of Libby and other areas actually now suffer asbestos lung diseases.

The Environmental Protection Agency was forced to clean up the town at a cost of $54 million, and the Grace company tried to wiggle out of paying the federal government for any of these cleanup costs, arguing various technical defenses. This asbestos environmental cleanup case went up on appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which fortunately let stand the lower court rulings that required the Grace company to pay the $54 million dollars. According to an EPA toxicologist the people of the Libby area experienced the most severe residential exposure to hazardous material this country has ever seen. There is even a criminal case pending involving the question of whether Grace company officials knowingly failed to warn workers of the dangers of prolonged exposure to this type of asbestos.

The 2005 indictments asserts that the company officials were criminally negligent and this indictment is still pending. It is amazing that a company that for decades suppressed medical and scientific information about asbestos hazards, had the audacity to fight the cleanup expenses all the way to the Supreme Court, only to lose again. Our law firm has represented not only workers who have contracted asbestosis and asbestos induced lung diseases, but also families whose loved ones have died of terminal lung cancers caused by asbestos–with the diagnosis often arriving 20-30 years after the workplace exposures occured. Moreover, mesothelioma lung cancer, which is terminal, can be caused by as little as just a few asbestos fibers lodging in the lungs which makes asbestos an incredibly toxic substance.