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.