Montana special court activated for asbestos exposure cases

1 Dec 2017 by under News

Libby Montana Eagles 1 100x100 Montana special court activated for asbestos exposure casesFor the first time since the act establishing it was passed in 2001, a special claims court will be activated in for people who have contracted or died from an -related disease.

Montana has a long history with asbestos exposure. Libby was home to an asbestos-contaminated vermiculite mine from 1963 to 1990, and the EPA has been conducting asbestos cleanup in the surrounding area since it was declared a Superfund site in the early 2000s. According to the Missoulian, at the time the court was created in 2001, more than 200 people had already died from asbestos-related diseases and 1,100 had been diagnosed.

The Montana Supreme Court ordered the activation this week, according to the Great Falls Tribune, in order to consolidate 548 individual suits against entities like the state of Montana, BNSF Railway and a host of insurance companies into a claims court managed by one judge. Cases against W.R. Grace had already been moved to a bankruptcy court. “In the order, justices cited the need to resolve the claims in a timely fashion, considering the complexity of the cases as well as the ‘detrimental impact’ to the district courts where litigation has been moving through an already overloaded system,” according to the news source.

The new organization of the cases will allow the judge to make far-reaching decisions about their management instead of on an individual basis. However, the Missoulian reports Flathead County District Court Judge Amy Eddy will only preside over the cases for discovery and settlement discussions due to a lack of funding. Those that aren’t settled in the special court will move on individually to trial in the regular district system where the cases originated.

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