HELENA - Hundreds of Libby residents who are waiting for their claims over asbestos exposure to be litigated are getting hoped-for help, with the formation of a special court to consider their cases.
On Tuesday, the Montana Supreme Court announced those cases will now be able to proceed through a special Asbestos Claims Court. The court believes it has captured most of the outstanding cases, but says anyone with claims that may have been overlooked should have their attorney contact the court.
For nearly two decades, Libby residents have hoped to have their individual claims over the health impacts of asbestos exposure resolved, exposure stemming from decades of vermiculite extraction at the W.R. Grace mine.
But getting those cases before a judge has always been difficult, with a process complicated by federal bankruptcy proceedings against the mine owners. As many as 600 cases have been in limbo.
The claims can include personal injury, wrongful death, loss or other injury arising out of an asbestos-related disease alleged to come from vermiculite mining, processing or the transfer, storage, installation or removal of a product containing vermiculite.
Formation of the court was actually approved by the Montana legislature in 2001, but implementation was stopped by legal action in federal court.