Tort Law

Grace Sets $3B Aside to Settle Asbestos Suits

After years of posturing, a bankruptcy and recently heated negotiation, W.R. Grace & Co. has announced it will settle all 112,000 lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals sickened or killed because of exposure to asbestos in the company’s vermiculite mine in Libby, Mont.

Grace plans to create an irrevocable trust and set aside at least $2.9 billion to pay current and future settlements, according to a Grace statement and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The company told the Post-Intelligencer it wanted to settle so it could get on with business.

At the heart of the litigation is Grace’s mine on Zonolite Mountain. The mine was six miles from Libby, which was coated by 5,000 pounds of asbestos dust each day. Read more about Libby in the Post-Intelligencer’s detailed special report “Uncivil Action” that chronicles the litigation and the town’s ordeal.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which struck a record $250 million cleanup deal with the company in March, has called characterized the Libby case “the nation’s worst environmental disaster.”

Criminal charges against current and former Grace executives are pending.

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