Asbestos court is welcome, overdue

Print Article

Itís been a long and often agonizing ordeal for sufferers of Libby asbestos-related disease to get compensation through the legal system.

W.R. Grace & Co. exposed thousands of people in the Libby area to the toxic, needle-like asbestos fibers that silently lodged in victimsí lungs while the company cashed in on decades of vermiculite mining. Getting financial settlements to cover ongoing medical bills caused by that exposure has been anything but easy.

Asbestos victims got some good news this week, though, when the Montana Supreme Court issued an order creating an asbestos claims court to resolve hundreds of Libby asbestos-related cases pending in the stateís trial courts.

The high courtís order places all pending asbestos cases into a specialty court. Flathead District Judge Amy Eddy will preside over the court initially, handling pre-trial proceedings. The goal is to expedite the process for the 600 pending asbestos cases, but there likely are many more cases out there, the high court acknowledged.

Consolidating the cases will allow discovery and settlement discussions to proceed more quickly. Thatís good news for Libby victims. Any cases that are not settled will be tried in the judicial district in which the cases originated.

The Montana Legislature, to its credit, passed the Asbestos Claims Court Act in 2001 to help expedite the legal process, but shortly after that Grace filed for bankruptcy protection and court cases were put on hold for about 13 years. We donít know how many victims perished while waiting for some measure of compensation.

Litigating asbestos claims is complicated, lawyers say, because of the latency period with asbestos disease. Claims must be filed within three years from the day of diagnosis, but it may take years for the disease to progress.

It will still be a waiting game for many Libby victims, but the asbestos claims court provides a much-needed way to more efficiently manage the asbestos caseload.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Letters policy to be re-examined

August 19, 2018 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Daily Inter Lake has found itself at the center of a controversy during the past week as the result of our publishing a guest opinion that many readers found offensive. Frankly, many of us here ...

Comments

Read More

Short-term fix to a long-term problem

August 12, 2018 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake It was a relief for many Montana families recently when Gov. Steve Bullock announced that $30 million will be restored to the Department of Public Health and Human Services by Sept. 1. Funding for m...

Comments

Read More

Good luck to Twins in Regional battle

August 10, 2018 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Glacier Twins just keep grinding ó and winning. American Legion Baseball Class A regular season champs, district champs and now state champs ó all while maintaining an impressive 22-game winning...

Comments

Read More

Peggyís House continues legacy of hope

August 05, 2018 at 6:00 am | Daily Inter Lake In a society thatís all too willing to discard people who canít seem to get a handle on life financially, mentally or spiritually, Peggy Christensen was a lifeline from despair. A consummate caregive...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

News: (406) 837-5131
Advertising: 406-758-4410
Bigfork Eagle
c/o Daily Inter Lake
PO Box 7610
Kalispell, MT 59904

©2018 Bigfork Eagle Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X