The Montana Supreme Court recently took up oral arguments on the appeal of a $100 million judgment that ordered an insurance company to pay the state for damages that it itself was ordered to pay to victims of asbestos exposure at a vermiculite mine. The state of Montana is seeking payments from National Indemnity Company, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, to cover settlement claims from residents of the town of Libby, who were exposed to deadly asbestos fibers emanating from a mine owned and operated by WR Grace since 1963.
Libby residents had filed lawsuits against the state of Montana, claiming that the state knew for decades about the environmental health risks from the asbestos fibers coming from WR Grace’s vermiculite mine but did not warn the victims of the danger. National Indemnity Company had underwritten the state of Montana for a period of years during the 1970s, the time during which much of the town of Libby was exposed to the carcinogenic asbestos fibers from the mine.
In 2019, a state district court judge ruled that National Indemnity Company was required to reimburse the state of Montana for the settlement it had reached with the plaintiffs, per the terms of the policy that existed between the insurance company and the state. Lawsuits against the state of Montana over the asbestos exposure from the Libby mine have been ongoing since 2002, and National Indemnity Company has resisted its contractual duties to underwrite the state for liability in such lawsuits.
When the Libby mine began its vermiculite mining operations in the 1920s, it produced the overwhelming supply of the world’s vermiculite, which is used as a building insulation and soil conditioner. Unfortunately, the vermiculite deposit was also contaminated with another naturally occurring mineral called asbestos. Exposure to asbestos is directly linked to developing a rare and serious form of cancer called mesothelioma, which commonly affects the thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the heart and lungs, as well as the abdominal cavity.
The ongoing litigation surrounding the Libby vermiculite mine is another example of the lengths to which negligent companies and their insurance carriers will go in order to deny, delay, and defend meritorious claims by victims seeking compensation to make themselves whole again. Although nothing can undo the harm caused by a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis, the law gives victims and their surviving family members the right to hold negligent pirates accountable in a court of law for damages such as medical bills, lost wages while recovering, and the pain and suffering of living with the disease.
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.