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January 23, 2017

It’s Not Over For Residents In Libby, Montana

The latest news to come out of Libby Montana, an area in the United States where hundreds of people were killed following decades of asbestos exposure, reports that more than 1,000 of those victims have reached a $25 million settlement with Montana health officials. There were over 100 lawsuits, each with multiple claimants all stating that Montana health officials failed to warn those who worked in the Libby Mine that they were working with vermiculite contaminated with tremolite  – one of the most deadly forms of asbestos.

This latest settlement comes directly after an announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that residents who wish to have their properties inspected as part of Superfund clean-up only have until March 31, 2017. The Libby Mine closed in 1999 and in the early 2000s the EPA provided an emergency response team, using Superfund money, to investigate the damage brought on to this small communal town by W.R. Grace; the company that owned the vermiculite mines. Since then, it has been reported that 7,500 properties have been inspected, with about 2,440 of those properties requiring asbestos abatement.

While the risk of asbestos exposure is approximately 100,000 times lower today in Libby, Montana than it was years ago when the mine was in full operation,  it will be many years before residents can claim that the negative health effects of the mine are no longer apparent. This is partly due to the long latency period for asbestos-related diseases to develop after exposure.  Those who have been exposed to asbestos may not show signs or symptoms of illness until decades after initial exposure. Mesothelioma, a cancer directly caused by asbestos exposure is also aggressive by nature; most patients only live a short time after the initial diagnosis. Family members of those who worked in the mines are at risk of bystander exposure because asbestos fibers were carried into the household via workers clothing, shoes, and even tools.  Those exposed as recently as the 1990s, especially children, are not entirely out of danger and could develop asbestosis, mesothelioma, or even lung cancer as a result of their exposure.

At Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., we understand that companies who knew about the dangers of asbestos exposure, such as W.R. Grace, were putting the company’s profits above their worker’s health.  While asbestos today is heavily regulated and many of these corrupt companies are now bankrupt, the lasting effects of asbestos exposure continue to plague hardworking individuals and their families.

For over three decades, GPW has specialized in the practice of asbestos law, representing many individuals throughout the United States who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related diseases. If you are seeking a lawyer for your mesothelioma lawsuit, it is important to find an attorney who is skilled in asbestos litigation. Learn more about our law firm’s asbestos experience, our mesothelioma attorneys, or our Ask an Asbestos Attorney for answers to common questions. Contact us directly for more information.

Sources

Tristan Scott, “Libby Asbestos Victims Win $25 Million Settlement from State,” Flathead Beacon (January 19, 2017). [Link]

Justin Franz “EPA Issues ‘Last Call’ for Residential Clean-up in Libby, Troy,” Flathead Beacon (January 10, 2017). [Link]

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