Employees who worked at a former W.R. Grace mine have been granted a $43 million settlement from a Montana court, part of which is to be paid out by a division at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Located in Libby, Montana the mine produced vermiculite which was popular in home insulation. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the Libby mine produced nearly 70 percent of the material used throughout the United States and that material was all contaminated with asbestos.
The legal battle has taken nearly a decade to complete and will benefit 1,300 people who worked in the mines, many of whom are now over 65-years-old and suffer from the lung disease asbestosis.
Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity unit which handles reinsurance claims will pay out approximately 40 percent of the settlement. National Indemnity has been taking over asbestos related obligations from insurance companies for large one-time up-front payments.
In June 2009 the Obama administration alongside the EPA issued a priority cleanup order for the mine as the lawsuit over asbestos contamination in the area heated up.
Do you believe that the people of Libby, Montana who worked in the mines should have received a larger settlement given the severity of the issue? When lawyer fees are taken into the equation it’s likely that many people who have been suffering for years will receive barely enough to cover even a small percentage of their overall hospital bills.