Litigation based on asbestos injuries as well as property damages caused by asbestos has been considered the longest-running mass tort in the history of the United States. While it is not completely banned in the United States, there are still a large number of regulations and laws monitoring asbestos; both at the federal and state levels. These laws and statutes determine how companies, agencies, and sometimes even how individuals are allowed to manufacture, use and dispose of the substance. It is because asbestos is such a dangerous substance that these laws and regulations are made, so as to protect everyone from the potentially deadly effects from exposure to asbestos.
A case in Montana was brought not by a victim of asbestos exposure, but rather by a prominent, family-run asbestos-disposal company. The company, Ingraham Environmental Inc., brought a lawsuit against the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for its failure to enforce the state’s strict asbestos-waste laws. Filed in the district court of Butte-Silver Bow County, the lawsuit was brought by Doug Ingraham, corporate secretary for Ingraham Environmental, with the purpose of trying to push the Department of Environmental Quality to toughen up on asbestos regulations.
Health officials studied and concluded that more than 400 citizens died and multiple thousand were gravely sickened in Libby, Montana where the largest environmental asbestos disaster occurred in the United States. The largest asbestos cleanup project was initiated in response to Libby as well. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has spent “almost $600 million cleaning up commercial and residential properties in Libby and [its surrounding areas].”
Another reason the Ingraham Environmental Inc. company is filing the lawsuit is because the company has been frustrated with how the State governmental has formed their laws and regulation on asbestos dumping. Many asbestos-industry members located in Montana have taken advantage of loopholes within the statute that allow their companies to avoid inspections which means further endangering the lives of innocent people in the area.
As of now, asbestos abatement as well as disposal in landfills are quite costly, thus deterring many asbestos companies to follow through with following proper asbestos disposal procedure. Furthermore, the landfills themselves are not up to code with the standards needed to contain asbestos products. The landfills are open air and therefore can be potentially deadly to the workers, transporters and people who breathe in the air around the landfill.