LIBBY, Montana – Mesothelioma attorneys from the nationally-acclaimed asbestos litigation firm Levy Konigsberg LLP continue to help MT residents who developed an asbestos-caused disease, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis, obtain justice and compensation that they deserve.
Montanans may live in the Treasure State, but good fortune has eluded many Libby, Montana citizens over the past century as its infamous vermiculite mines plagued residents and miners alike with startling rates of mesothelioma. With an age adjusted death rate of 56.1 per million population, Lincoln County stands third in the nation for mesothelioma mortality, a sickening trend that gained its momentum as far back as 1919 when companies setup shop in the small town and began extracting asbestos-containing vermiculite from the earth.
Originally appearing as a godsend through the number of jobs they created, these vermiculite mines and the corporations that exploited them hid a hazardous secret from men and women who were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis. Whether it was the miner gathering the vermiculite or his daughter playing in a schoolyard nearby, invisible asbestos dust makes no distinction between worker and bystander, with Libby constituting another piece of evidence in support of this tragedy.
Vermiculite, known commercially as Zonolite, is an asbestos-containing mineral that could be found predominately in construction insulation due to its light weight and resistance to fire. From 1940 to 1980, Zonolite insulated tens of millions of homes and businesses in America. The story of Libby commenced well before this, however, when E.N. Alley purchased the mines in the early 1900s and founded the Zonolite Company. In 1963, W.R. Grace and Company purchased the Zonolite business from Alley, even though employees of the company had been experiencing lung problems, some even dying from the condition. At its peak, W.R. Grace produced roughly 80 percent of the world’s supply of vermiculite, a racket that ceased in 1990 amid reports of asbestos contamination. It has been revealed, however, that executives of W.R. Grace and Company were aware of the presence of tremolite asbestos dust in the town’s mines when they acquired them nearly three decades prior, ultimately leading to some of the largest asbestos lawsuits in our nation’s history. These lawsuits were brought by those stricken with an asbestos-related disease with the help of Montana mesothelioma attorneys.
The negligence of these executives led to the deaths of approximately 200 Libby workers and residents, while roughly 2,000 more continue to suffer from asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma. These statistics reveal that approximately half the population of Libby has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. While miners employed by the company experienced their exposures onsite, residents of the town often were exposed when W.R. Grace would illegally dump asbestos-containing debris around the area.
The Environmental Protection Agency ultimately stepped in and deemed Libby one of its Superfund sites in need of contamination removal. While the EPA had removed 900,000 cubic yards of asbestos-containing material from the town as of 2010, it admits that cleanup must continue and that some asbestos contamination may always remain due to the voluminous amounts that have plagued Libby throughout history.
Nonetheless, W.R. Grace facilities outside of Libby were in receipt of vermiculite from the rural town in order for the mineral to be processed. In addition to insulation, the company used vermiculite in many of its products including adhesives, cements, planting soil additives, plaster, and various forms of compounds. Such processing facilities included the company’s Glendale, California location, where more than 120,000 tons of the harmful vermiculite was transported. Additionally, W.R. Grace’s Phoenix, Arizona location processed approximately 204,000 tons of vermiculite from 1971 to 1992. In all, W.R. Grace shipped vermiculite to 244 sites across the United States.
Unfortunately, the vermiculite mines in Libby were not the only source of asbestos exposure for Montana residents. The Anaconda Copper Mill, which operated from the late 1800s until 1977 as the main mill of the Anaconda Copper Company, was also riddled with asbestos. Since asbestos is a fire retardant, many locations where high heat processes take place use the material within their insulation. Workers who repaired or manipulated the asbestos-containing insulation, however, would not have realized they were being exposed to hazardous fibers since the dust itself is almost always invisible, and also because mesothelioma embodies a lengthy latency period of approximately 20 to 50 years, with a majority of cases developing near the latter. Since asbestos doubles as a resistant to electrical current, many power plants, including a handful in Montana, have been identified as exposure worksites.
If you or someone you know has been employed at any of the worksites listed below, even if their tenure dates back decades, they may have been exposed to asbestos and could be at risk of developing asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma.
Montana worksites where asbestos exposure was common include:
Figure 1. Map of the most common asbestos exposure worksites in the State of Montana.
- Alta Montana Company (Wicks, MT)
- Anaconda Aluminum Company (Columbia Falls, MT)
- Anaconda Copper Mining Company (Anaconda, MT)
- Cenex Refinery (Laurel, MT)
- Conrey Peacer Mining Company (Adler, MT)
- Diehl Lumber Company (Plains, MT)
- General Mills (Great Falls, MT)
- Glasgow Air Force Base (Glasgow, MT)
- J. Neils Lumber Company (Troy, MT)
- Kaiser Cement & Gypsum (Montana City, MT)
- Montana Coal and Iron Company (Washoe, MT)
- National Mining and Exploring Company (Helena, MT)
- Northern Pacific Railway Company (Livingstone, MT)
- Saint Regis Paper Company (Libby, MT)
- Stone Container Corporation (Frenchtown, MT)
- Texaco (Inc. (Sunburst, MT)
- Union Oil Company (Cut Bank, MT)
- Union Tank Car Company (Laurel, MT)
- Utah Idaho Sugar Company (Chinook, MT)
- W.R. Grace and Company (Libby, MT)
If you or your loved one are a MT resident or were exposed to asbestos in Montana, and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, please call 1-800-637-6529 or contact us electronically through this website to receive a FREE consultation with experienced mesothelioma attorneys at Levy Konigsberg LLP.
Under the law of most states, pain and suffering from mesothelioma may be compensated through the award of money damages, usually obtained with the help of experienced mesothelioma attorneys. In some states other types of damages may also be recovered.
Asbestos litigation affords mesothelioma victims the opportunity to receive financial compensation and hold accountable the companies that caused their asbestos exposure.
- Preserve your rights to bring a legal action against the responsible parties within the limited time frame allowed by law, known as statute of limitations;
- Obtain maximum compensation in your case by being able to:
- Preserve evidence and establish facts of the asbestos exposure while the claimant is still alive and able to provide information;
- File and resolve a lawsuit against the responsible parties before they file for bankruptcy or, if they already have, to obtain compensation before their bankruptcy trust funds run out of money;
- Expedite your case, as courts tend to give higher priority to mesothelioma lawsuits where the claimant is still alive.