After 16 years, the Montana Supreme Court has finally activated its special administrative court to hear asbestos cancer lawsuits related to the Libby vermiculite mine and claims against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, the state of Montana, International Paper, and several insurance companies. Sadly, in the time between the legislature authorizing the creation of the court, an estimated 200-claimants have passed away from their debilitating medical conditions.
The Montana State Legislature passed the Asbestos Claims Court Act in 2001 to hear cases related to the vermiculite mine owned and operated by W.R. Grace & Co. regarding allegations that the company poisoned hundreds of area residents through asbestos exposure. W.R. Grace declared bankruptcy soon after the claims began to pour in against it, and its bankruptcy proceedings were only finalized in 2015.
The State Supreme Court's order applies to 548 individual cases against the slate of defendants, which up until now had languished in the lower district courts, much to the detriment of those seeking justice. In addition to the named cases, the Montana Supreme Court's order notes that other claims could be heard in the specialized asbestos lawsuit court.
By consolidating the cases into one court, parties may be able to conduct common discovery just as class actions and multi-district litigation (MDL) do when hundreds or even thousands of plaintiffs are involved. The backlog is partially due to the nature of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of lung cancer that can take decades to show symptoms.
Because so many people were exposed at one time and the illness takes so long to develop, the result was hundreds of clients all filing claims against common defendants who would rather deny, delay, and defend otherwise meritorious lawsuits. Despite knowing full well that plaintiffs suffer, insurance companies and big corporations are perfectly content to stave off litigation and force courts to hear cases one at a time.
Sadly, cases against large corporations like W.R. Grace and the circumstances that follow are an all too common occurrence in our legal system. Despite knowing full well about the dangers their asbestos contaminated products posed to workers and ordinary people, these big corporations chose to conduct business as usual without taking necessary safety precautions or even warning innocent victims about the dangers of asbestos.
Fortunately, the legal system does allow asbestos cancer victims to bring legal action against the asbestos companies responsible for their mesothelioma diagnosis and recover for their damages. Asbestos cancer lawsuits can help recover lost wages, medical bills, and compensation for the pain and suffering of living with a mesothelioma diagnosis.
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.