District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock in Helena approved a $43 million settlement from the state that will go to those suffering from asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma and other illnesses, according to The Associated Press.
Libby is the former home of the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine, which brought large quantities of asbestos to the surface. The heavy exposure to the substance that those in the area endured exacted a devastating toll, reportedly killing 400 people through asbestos diseases and sickening nearly 2,000 more.
The plaintiffs claimed that state officials knew that the asbestos was causing harm but did nothing to prevent it from happening.
Asbestos Settlement too Late for Some
Asbestosis sufferer Mike Nelson, who has signed up for the settlement, told the news source that any asbestos compensation he receives from the deal can’t cover the devastating losses he has been forced to endure.
“I’ve lost my father, my mother, my stepmother and my father-in-law,” he told the AP. “They’re all dead. All from asbestos… W.R. Grace was the one responsible, but right now, I hate my government. The state knew. (The money) isn’t going to do anything for me.”
Thousands of people are likely in the same boat as Nelson, having lost family and friends needlessly due to corporations and officials conveniently ignoring the fact that asbestos exposure kills.
Medical Evidence Impossible to Ignore
Asbestos exposure has been known to cause malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer since the mid-1960s, a fact that a number of companies like W.R. Grace – which only closed the mine in the early 1990s – largely ignored.
One of the plaintiff’s asbestos attorneys said that the medical evidence presented in the case was too much for the court to overlook, according to Daily Inter Lake.
“We believe that a factor in the state’s willingness to settle was that we had assembled so much medical proof that the state was unlikely to win by calling doctors to dispute the findings of the doctors at the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) clinic in Libby,” the asbestos lawyer reportedly wrote to his clients.