A $36.5 million verdict in favor of an Oregon man seriously ill due to exposure to asbestos should continue to wake up companies about the dangers of this mineral. These companies cannot avoid punishment for causing heartache for thousands of families throughout the country.
On Feb. 18, a Montana jury awarded the millions to Ralph Hutt, who suffers from a serious case of asbestosis, a lung condition that causes victims to struggle to breathe. During an 18-month period in 1968 and 1969, Hutt worked for W.R. Grace & Co., which operated a vermiculite mine and processing center near Libby, Montana.
More than 800 plaintiffs filed lawsuits
Hutt was among more than 800 plaintiffs filing lawsuits against Maryland Casualty Co., the provider of workers’ compensation insurance for W.R. Grace. His respiratory problems surfaced in 1990.
In March 2020, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that Maryland Casualty should have alerted Hutt and his co-workers on the risk from exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. Soon after, Hutt’s case went to trial.
Sadly, an overabundance of asbestos-related ailments has struck many residents who lived near the W.R. Grace mine. Toxic asbestos dust from the mine spread throughout this region in northwestern Montana while it was in operation there from 1963 until its closure in 1990.
The floodgates of litigation and resolution have begun in the legal case against Maryland Casualty and W.R. Grace. Granted, any awarded damages will not improve the health of victims or lengthen their life spans. But it can help the victims and their surviving families.
Still room for optimism
Decades after regular exposure to asbestos in the workplace, the symptoms of illness surface. If you experience symptoms such as chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and weight loss due to lack of appetite, see your doctor and stay as optimistic as you can.