From 1963 to 1990, W.R. Grace & Co. owned and operated one of the biggest vermiculite mines in the United States. The mine, located in Libby, Montana, was contaminated with asbestos. The mine produced up to 200,000 tons of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite a year that was used in a variety of construction projects and applications.

Scores of people – including local residents, mineworkers, construction workers and homeowners nationwide – have been exposed to Grace products containing asbestos. About a quarter-million people filed lawsuits by the time the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001.

Hazardous Occupations

Scores of workers nationwide, in a variety of occupations, have been impacted by asbestos exposure from Grace products. Some people worked at the Grace mines, while others used Grace products for their work. The following occupations are most likely to have asbestos exposure from Grace:

  • Mining
  • Milling
  • Screening
  • Processing
  • Shipping
  • Trucking
  • Construction Worker
  • Insulation Installers
  • Plumbers
  • Railroad Workers

Exposed to Asbestos

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Products Containing Asbestos

Asbestos-covered vermiculite has been used in millions of homes across the U.S. For decades, it was widely used in insulation, fireproofing, garden soil and fill dirt. Grace made dozens of products containing asbestos-tainted vermiculite. An example of asbestos-containing Grace products:

  • Zonolite Super 40 – Used in interior drywall applications
  • Zonolite Masonry Insulation – For use in construction applications
  • Zonolite Plaster – Dry plaster compound
  • Monokote Cement – Fire-retardant cement for construction
  • Monokote Fireproofing – Fire-retardant spray used in World Trade Center

Why Was The Trust Established?

Established in 2008 under a bankruptcy court order, the Grace bankruptcy trust will be fully funded with $1.8 billion by 2034. With this, the company established a schedule of financial liability for eight asbestos diseases, including mesothelioma. If asbestos exposure can be proven, claims will be paid based on the level of disease. Like other asbestos trusts, the Grace trust only pays a percentage of claimant requests to ensure there is enough money for all present and future claims.

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W.R. Grace Asbestos Lawsuits

Grace executives filed for bankruptcy in 2001 amidst an influx of nearly 130 thousand lawsuits. This helped the company push off the financial responsibility to the victims until the bankruptcy was settled. Unfortunately for the victims this was perhaps one of the longest bankruptcies, lasting nearly 13 years tied up in court.

Eventually the court and W.R. Grace were able to reach an agreement, which provided the immediate $250 million trust set up and years worth of $100 million dollar payments thereafter to keep the trust funded.

Criminal Charges Filed

The company acted so recklessly that the EPA and Justice Department indicted seven executives for knowingly putting the people of Libby, Montana at risk, as well as attempting to conceal the health side effects of its products.

Unfortunately for the people of Libby, the jury in the trial acquitted each of the defendants. The main reason for the acquittal was as a direct result of a close relationship between the prosecution’s star witness, a former W.R. Grace executive, and government investigators.


Superfund Sites

The contamination at the mine in Libby, Montana was so bad, the EPA designated it a superfund site. To date, the EPA has spent nearly $55 million in clean up expenses. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana called it a “human and environmental tragedy.”

Libby was not the only town affected and deemed a superfund site. The towns of Acton and Concord in Massachusetts were also affected by W.R. Grace’s actions and deemed superfund sites by the epa.

W.R. Grace currently ranks second in number of superfund sites only behind the U.S. government. The company is linked to nearly seven other sites, though Acton and Libby were predominantly caused by them.


Compensation and Payouts

W.R. Grace has a higher than average payment percentage, set at 35 percent. There are two options for payment. As with many asbestos trusts, expedited settlement and individual review are both available.

The trust is directly responsible for handling the compensation of asbestos victims. See how much you could receive below:

Disease Compensation
Mesothelioma $180,000
Lung Cancer 1 $42,000
Other Cancer $20,000
Severe Asbestosis $50,000
Severe Disabling Pleural Disease $50,000
Asbestosis/Pleural Disease III $7,500
Asbestosis/Pleural Disease II $2,500
Other Asbestos Disease I $300

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Reviewed by Daniel Wasserberg

Attorney and On-Site Legal Advocate

Daniel Wasserberg was a New York metropolitan area “Super Lawyer Rising Star” from 2013 to 2018 (attorneys under age 40), and a Super Lawyer in 2019. In 2017, Daniel was named a “Top 100 Civil Litigator” by the National Trial Lawyers organization. This recognition is rarely awarded to attorneys under the age of 40. Daniel is proud to call himself a Trial Lawyer, and is often asked to speak at gatherings of the nation’s leading attorneys, from both sides of the bar.

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