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Major asbestos litigation in both U.S. and UK

Asbestos settlements and lawsuits are two of the most common ways that victims who have been harmed by the exposure they endured to the carcinogenic material can gain compensation to help themselves and their families. Recently, there was some major asbestos litigation – both in the U.S. and in the UK – that could have a serious impact on those who have contracted asbestos-related diseases, such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

The town of Libby, Montana, was home to the W.R. Grace & Co./Zonolite Mining Co. vermiculite mine and during mining operations there, which didn’t end until 1990, a great deal of asbestos was brought to the surface, resulting in hundreds of people dying from diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis and around 1,500 others becoming sick from such illnesses, according to The Associated Press. The situation became so dire that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared the Libby area a health emergency in 2009.

Now, it appears that some asbestos victims in the area will be compensated for the illnesses they’ve had to endure, as the Daily Inter Lake reports that it has obtained legal papers that indicate that Montana and the victims are closing in on a $43 million asbestos settlement.

The details of the settlement were supposed to be kept confidential, but one of the 1,125 claimants who has a severe asbestos-related illness shared documentation and spoke with the news source.

“They’re not admitting any guilt,” he told the news source in reference to the state. “I feel like they’re gonna brush us under the mat.”

Still, the large asbestos settlement will provide compensation for those who contracted a disease from the hazardous substance in Libby. The news source reports that those with malignant mesothelioma will be eligible to receive $60,723 from the settlement, while those lung and other cancers can receive $51,908. These figures are based on a grid, and those wishing to be part of a settlement must have a chest X-ray taken, according to the news source.

The asbestos attorneys have said that Montana disregarded industrial hygiene studies that indicated that conditions in the mine were unsafe.

“Rather than enforcing the law by compelling Zonolite and Grace to clean up its deadly operations, the state effectively became Grace’s accomplice and aided and abetted Grace’s concealment of this enormous public health problem,” an earlier asbestos lawsuit said.

The news source reports that the settlement will need to be approved by a court before it is finalized.

On the other side of the Atlantic, asbestos victims might also be getting access to compensation as the UK’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of two victims who contracted mesothelioma after enduring “low level” asbestos exposure, according to the UK Press Association.

One of the plaintiffs, Dianne Willmore, claimed that she was exposed to asbestos while a pupil in a school and the other, Enid Costello, said she came into contact with the deadly mineral while working as a secretary. Both of the women died of the rare cancer that attacks the thin membrane that lines the chest, abdomen and many of the body’s internal organs.

The news source reports that this ruling could pave the way for more people who endured “low level” exposure to seek asbestos settlements and file mesothelioma lawsuits.

Both the potential settlement in Montana and the Supreme Court ruling in the UK highlight the serious consequences that asbestos exposure can have on anyone anywhere in the world.

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