Former Libby, Mont., worker wins $36.5 million in asbestos lawsuit

Mr. Hutt worked for WR Grace for 18 months in 1968 and 1969 and was diagnosed with asbestosis in 2002. When he joined the dry mill at the age of 27, he said when he was fired, His boss gave him “a broom and a snow shovel and sent him to do the cleaning work”. Workers don’t wear masks because they get clogged too quickly, he said.

At least 400 deaths have been recorded from asbestos-related causes in Libby, and more than 2,400 people have been diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses at the established Asbestos Disease Center clinic. established to treat the people in the town.

Pollution affects workers more. The US government in 2009 called it “the worst case of industrial poisoning by an entire community in American history.”

WR Grace began mining vermiculite on a forested peak called Zonolite Mountain near Libby in the 1960s. The relatively harmless mineral, known commercially as Zonolite, is used in insulation. in the attic until the 1980s. But a naturally deadly asbestos was found in the same mine.

The mine generated seven to nine tons of dust a day for 10 years during the time Maryland Casualty was part of the operation, and asbestos sometimes makes up 60 to 80 percent of the dust in the air. Not only was dust billowing everywhere at the mines and factories, but toxic levels filled the air over much of the small town.

WR Grace and Maryland Casualty hid that fact from workers, according to the lawsuit. In 1990, the mine closed. However, the disease continued to spread.

Few people outside of Libby knew what happened until 1998, when a resident named Gayla Benefield sued WR Grace after her mother, Margaret Vatland, died of what community residents called asbestosis. “take it home” – her father, Perley Vatland, brought asbestos. home wearing his work clothes and contaminating his wife and children, including Miss Benefield. “Miners come to work at the mine and come home dusty,” Ms. Benefield said in an interview. “It’s a badge of honor.” Former Libby, Mont., worker wins $36.5 million in asbestos lawsuit

Fry Electronics Team

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