W. R. Grace Asbestos Appeal Rejected

This morning, the Supreme Court announced that they’ve rejected an appeal by W.R. Grace and Company in a federal suit against the company and six of its executives, allowing the government’s case go to trial.

According to an article in Forbes, in the appeal, W.R. Grace argued that “the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of asbestos doesn’t cover most of the substances taken from the mine. A federal district court judge agreed with the company, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling.”

The company and the executives named in the suit have been charged with several violations of the Federal Clean Air Act, even though they were allegedly aware of the dangers of the mineral. Grace operated a vermiculite mine in the northwestern Montana town of Libby from 1963 to 1990. Asbestos has already sickened approximately 2,000 residents of the town (including mine workers) and more than 200 have already died.

By the time the Maryland-based company had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001, 10,000 asbestos-related lawsuits had been filed against it.

“The company agreed to a $3 billion settlement in April that will allow it to emerge from bankruptcy without further asbestos liability,” the article explains. In addition, the settlement sets up a trust fund that will be used to pay claims against the company.

Earlier this year, Grace also agreed to pay the government $250 million to reimburse it for the investigation and cleanup of asbestos contamination in Libby. The clean-up began a few years ago and is ongoing.

Previously, the Supreme Court rejected a separate appeal by the six executives who now face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on their crimes.

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