The 9th Circuit Appellate Court in Seattle has overturned a Missoula judge’s decision to ban dozens of expert witnesses and nonexperts from testifying in the criminal case against W.R. Grace & Co. Grace is charged with concealing the dangers of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite mined near Libby. The three appellate judges ruled in favor of federal prosecutors who argued that U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy’s decision to exlude asbestos expert witnesses impeded their efforts to bring Grace and seven of its current and former senior executives and managers to trial last September. Missoulian.com also reports:
“I am gratified by today’s decision by the 9th Circuit,” said Montana U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer. “It moves the United States one step closer to the ultimate goal of trying the grand jury’s charge against W.R. Grace and the individual defendants to a jury with a full complement of evidence.” In February 2005, the government obtained a 49-page, 10-count indictment against Grace and its officers, alleging criminal acts spanning 26 years and creating at least 1,200 victims and 230 potential witnesses. Those charges relate to the improper disposal of disease-causing asbestos, which experts say led to hundreds of deaths and sickened thousands more in Libby.