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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Asbestos and Criminal Law – Prosecution of W R Grace Officials Coming Unglued Due to Prosecuto

The New York Times ran a Saturday article detailing growing evidence of government misconduct in the criminal prosecution of WR Grace officials. Unlike most of the ongoing superficial stories about the trial, this article includes links to the judge’s opinion excluding evidence proferred by the government, plus a brief from teh Grace side that details government misconduct. The article also includes references to the students and professors following the trial through a reasonably helpful blog.

The bottom line? As is so often the case when speaking about asbestos, the opponents of industry seek to ignore scientific lines drawn for many years between types of asbestos and how asbestos is defined. The science and lines deserve respect because, at the end of the day, good decisions have to be based on science.

Please do not take me as seeking to excuse everything done by industry or insurers. I certainly agree that officers of Johns-Mansville and some other companies took inexcusable actions. Some of their insurers also have much dirty laundry.

That said, distinctions between among asbestos fiber types are very real and their “toxicities” are different by orders of magnitude. For example, crocidolite fibers are usually viewed as 5oox more potent that chrysotile fibers in terms of causing mesothelioma.

Caveat/Disclaimer: In the mid-to-late 1990s, I was part of ateam of lawyers who represented W.R. Grace in asbestos litigation. My personal opinion is that the prosecution always has been a travesty because it ignored the facts and science regarding the Libby, Montana zonolite mining facility purchased by Grace after the facility had been in operation for many years.

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