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Asbestos company fraud case revived by appeals court

Asbestos-related products have long been associated with lung cancer and mesothelioma. Sometimes, there may be a geographical relationship. The town of Libby, Montana is a well-known example. The mine at Libby was not an asbestos mine, but one for vermiculite.

Sadly, for the miners and their families and others who had the misfortune to live in the town, the vermiculite was naturally contaminated with asbestos.

A talc mine in Vermont operated from 1967 to 1983 appears similarly to have been contaminated with asbestos. A lawsuit from 1979 heard testimony from employees of the company that they had known as early as 1972 that the talc contained asbestos. 

The company settled that case and as part of the settlement, sealed all the testimony with a confidentiality agreement. In subsequent cases, the company consistently denied that the talc contained asbestos. They used this "fact" to have state court cases alleging asbestos related illnesses dismissed.

During this time, the company even advertised their talc as being an alternative to talc with asbestos.

Thirty years later, during some state court cases involving asbestos claims from this mine, a former employee of entity stated that asbestos had been found in the talc "many years ago."

A fraud lawsuit based on this revelation has been revived by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The fraud lawsuit accuses the company and their lawyers of intentionally destroying or hiding documents that would show evidence of the contaminated talc. This lawsuit even alleges that they created "false affidavits, false and incorrect expert reports and discovery response verifications."

They even threatened sanctions against plaintiffs if they continued to allege that there was a connection between the talc and asbestos. 

Once again, the word "breathtaking" comes to mind in relation to asbestos litigation.

Bloomberg, "BASF Must Face Asbestos Coverup Fraud Claims, Court Says," Jef Feeley and Sophia Pearson, September 4, 2014

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