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Center for Asbestos Related Diseases

$43 Million Asbestos Settlement Approved for Libby Victims

asbestos mineFew communities in the world have been as heavily affected by asbestos as Libby, Montana, and those suffering from asbestos-related diseases in the town recently received a bit of good news.

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.

$10 Million Grant to Provide Screenings to Potential Asbestos Victims in Montana

Fibrous asbestos

U.S. Senator Max Baucus of Montana recently congratulated the Center for Asbestos Related Diseases (CARD) in Libby, Montana, on its securing of a $10 million grant to help treat asbestos victims.

The grant will offer screenings for asbestos-related diseases – such as lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer – to those in the Libby area, according to a release from the Senator’s office. The grant is part of a program Baucus created for President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

“Early screening is one of our strongest weapons in the fight to treat asbestos victims and prevent this terrible tragedy from taking any more of our family members and neighbors,” Baucus said. “The folks at the CARD clinic do amazing work supporting asbestos victims, and this grant will give them security and support to continue providing great screening and healthcare to folks in Lincoln County for years to come.”

Libby, a national health emergency

In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency declared Libby to be the first national health emergency in U.S. history. This was due to the old W.R. Grace vermiculite mine, which ceased operations in the early 1990s. The mine brought up a large amount of asbestos to the surface.

Exposure to asbestos can have deadly consequences as the inhalation of the deadly mineral fiber has been known since the mid-1960s to cause a number of illnesses such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.

These illnesses have reportedly caused the deaths of hundreds of people in Libby and the surrounding areas. The World Health Organization estimates that such diseases kill 107,000 people each year around the world.

Grant will help CARD serve the community

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded the $10 million grant, which will be paid out over the course of four years, to Lincoln County-based CARD after it won a competitive application process.

“CARD is grateful for the opportunity to continue providing free asbestos health screening for individuals exposed to asbestos in Libby, Montana,” Dr. Brad Black, CARD Medical Director and Lincoln County Public Health Officer, said. “CARD will not only be providing free screening in Libby Montana but CARD will also implement screening across the nation for individuals exposed in Libby, Montana.”

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