U.S. Supreme Court rejects asbestos company’s appeal, clearing way for trial
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from asbestos company W.R. Grace, clearing the way for a long-awaited criminal trial to begin. The company and six of its executives were indicted in 2005 on charges of violating the Clean Air Act by allegedly releasing asbestos-contaminated vermiculite from a mine in Libby, Mont., between 1963 and 1990, when the mine closed; the executives have also been charged with knowingly endangering the lives of mine workers and town residents. Some 300 of Libby’s 2,600 residents have died from asbestos-related diseases and many hundreds more have been sickened. If convicted at the criminal trial, the W.R. Grace executives face up to 15 years in prison. This spring, the company agreed to pay $3 billion to settle some 100,000 lawsuits against it filed on behalf of people injured or killed by asbestos in the company’s products.