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Montana State Supreme Court Rules Insurance Company May be Party to Class Action Asbestos Cancer Lawsuit

Posted by Michael Throneberry | Jun 14, 2020

The Montana state supreme court recently handed down an important ruling in a class action asbestos lawsuit against the insurer of a long-time operator of a vermiculite mine and processing facility in the state, alleged to have caused the debilitating health conditions of local residents. The Court's unanimous ruling will allow the plaintiffs to bring claims against Maryland Casualty Company, to potentially recover damages against the party for causing their asbestos-related conditions.

In her decision, Justice Ingrid Gustafson ruled that Maryland Casualty Company helped participate in W.R. Grace, the operator of the Libby vermiculite mine, conceal “known asbestos risk and worker injuries from workers.” Gustafson went on to write that Maryland Casualty Company “caused increased or prolonged exposure to asbestos, thereby increasing the risk of harm to workers beyond the pre-existing risk created by Grace.”

The case was originally brought by an employee of W.R. Grace in the late 1960s. The plaintiff claimed that he developed an asbestos-related condition while working at the company's mill and operating equipment at the mine site. With the Montana state supreme court's ruling, an estimated 800 other former W.R. Grace employees will be able to bring claims against Maryland Casualty Company for its failure to act responsibly.

Libby, Montana is home to one of the most infamous disaster sites in the country. For decades, various entities operated a vermiculite mine in the town. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that is used in a variety of applications. Unfortunately for those working in the mine, and the surrounding townspeople, deadly asbestos was also present in the mine.

Like vermiculite, asbestos is also a naturally occurring mineral and was once used across a wide variety of industries, including the military, construction, manufacturing, and even cosmetics. Asbestos exposure is directly linked to developing a whole host of serious medical conditions, including mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer which commonly affects the thin linings of tissue surrounding the vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and abdominal cavity. Even though companies mining, processing, or manufacturing equipment using asbestos-laden parts knew for decades about the risks that asbestos exposure posed to the health of others, many chose not to provide any warning to unsuspecting people.

In the case of Maryland Casualty Company, the Montana state supreme court determined that “there is no indication that Grace or [Maryland Casualty] ever informed the workers that the dust contained asbestos, asbestos was dangerous, and workers were suffering lung ailments because of it.” In 2017, a lower Montana state court reached the same conclusion with respect to Maryland Casualty Company's liability in the case and the company appealed that ruling to the state's highest court.

Arizona Mesothelioma Lawyer

If you or a loved one were 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.

About the Author

Michael Throneberry

Attorney Michael Throneberry graduated from Purdue University with a Civil Engineering degree. He then served with the United States Army...

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