Residents of Libby, Montana, the site of one of the country's most serious asbestos related disasters, face some tough decisions in the next few weeks as the statute of limitations to file asbestos cancer lawsuits against the owner of an infamous vermiculite mine comes to a close. Thousands of town residents have been diagnosed and passed away due to complications from inhaling asbestos-contaminated vermiculite particles and thousands more may meet the same fate. Over 2,000 asbestos cancer lawsuits are pending in state court and the Montana Supreme Court recently created a special judicial department to begin hearing the large backlog of cases.
Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly affects the thin linings of tissue surrounding the lungs and abdomen and is directly linked to exposure to asbestos, a flaky white mineral that occurs naturally around other minerals. The latency period for mesothelioma to develop is extremely long and it can be at least 20 to 40 years before victims show any symptoms. Often times, victims are left with limited treatment options as the disease progresses to such a point that tumors spread throughout the body and are inoperable.
Lawsuits began popping up in the mid 1980s as the latency period for mesothelioma to show symptoms began to peak for victims of the mine's deadly asbestos. Investigations in the late 1990s showed a link between the vermiculite mine and the hundreds of people who were sick and dying because of exposure to asbestos dust. As if by coincidence, W.R. Grace & Co., the mine's owner, filed for bankruptcy protection in court in 2001, a move that will severely limit its liability for injuries caused by its dangerous vermiculite mine.
Fortunately for the town's residents, the Montana Supreme Court held that victims could still file lawsuits after learning they developed mesothelioma or another serious health condition as a result of the company's negligence. However, now that W.R. Grace & Co. is emerging from its bankruptcy protection, victims will only have a few more weeks to file asbestos cancer lawsuits against the company, and any victims who develop after February 25, 2018 may not have actionable claims.
Nervous residents are now pondering whether or not to go ahead and file claims and try to preserve their rights to recover compensation against W.R. Grace in case they develop mesothelioma somewhere down the road. While statutes of limitations like the ones involved in these cases are unfortunate hurdles to justice, victims and their families need to understand these rules and speak to a qualified mesothelioma attorney about their cases as soon as possible to preserve their legal rights.
Arizona Mesothelioma Lawyer
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced Arizona mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.