A Cascade County, Montana jury delivered a $36.5 million verdict on Thursday, after it determined the insurance carrier wasn’t protected by the W. R. Grace bankruptcy in Libby, Montana more than two decades ago, and that it had a separate duty to warn workers like Ralph Hutt of the dangers.
According to an article in the Great Falls Tribune, Ralph Hutt worked at the W.R. Grace Co. vermiculite mill in Libby for just 18 months in 1968 and 1969. He requested a respirator. That request was denied by Grace officials. He didn’t know it then, but his X-rays already showed signs of asbestos damage in his lungs. He didn’t know, but Grace did – and so did the occupational safety program run by Grace’s insurance company, Maryland Casualty Company.
Hutt is currently tethered to oxygen in a modular home in Oregon, as an increasing amount of oxygen becomes slowly less effective. Asbestosis, a lung disease caused by the asbestos fibers found in vermiculite, will slowly suffocate him until he’s no longer able to breathe.
The jury hearing his case awarded him $6.5 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages.
Read the full article here.
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