Criminal endangering charge against WR Grace dismissed
Charge dropped for 'knowingly endangering' miners and residents
June 13, 2006
A federal judge has dismissed part of a criminal conspiracy charge against W.R. Grace & Co which alleges they knowingly endangered miners and Libby area residents to asbestos from their Libby vermiculite mine. The conspiracy charge remains, but U.S. District Judge Donald Molly concluded the time allotted under federal law had run out for the federal government to pursue the allegation the defendants “knowingly endangered” miners and residents.
The allegation that the defendants "knowingly endangered" residents and miners is a major foundation of the government’s conspiracy charge. Molloy ruled that the government failed to allege an overt act by the defendants within the five year statute of limitations.
W.R. Grace & Co. and seven former top officials were indicted in February, 2005, for conspiring to conceal health risks at the mine. A trial in the case has been set for September, 2006. Defense attorneys are attempting to get the trial date pushed back, as well as have separate trials for each of the named defendants. They had also hoped to get the conspiracy charge limited or thrown out.
The Defense’s Motion to Dismiss was filed over three months late, after the court’s deadline for all pretrial motions. Despite missing the deadline for filing, Malloy allowed the motion to be entered citing the government’s delays in getting court filings in on time.
He wrote, “The Court's decision to figure delays into the pretrial scheduling process has proven to be a sound one, as the government has throughout much of the case been a step slow in complying with its discovery obligations.”
The Judge further stated, “This is not to suggest that compliance with the Scheduling Order is optional. To date, the failures to timely comply with the trial schedule have not jeopardized the trial date. Given the proximity to the start of trial, any future failures to adhere to deadlines will be problematic for the offending party.”
The vermiculite mine closed in 1990.
Order of Dismissal
Federal judge dismisses criminal charge against WR Grace in asbestos case (University of Pittsburg School of Law, Jurist Legal News and Reserarch, 6/13/06) By Joe Shaulis.
Judge dismisses charge against W.R. Grace over Libby mine (BillingsGazette.com, 6/13/06) AP Story by Becky Bohrer
Judge dismisses criminal charge vs. Grace (USAToday.com, 6/13/06)
W.R. Grace asks for 6-month trial delay (Missoulian.com, 5/18/06) By Susan Gallagher
Lawyers try to get case thrown out (KPAX.com, 5/17/06)
U.S. vs. W.R. Grace case file (U.S. District Court of Montana)