Montana asbestos victims win $43M settlement

By MATTHEW BROWN | September 16, 2011 | 12:45 PM EDT

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana judge has approved a $43 million settlement for more than a thousand asbestos victims who said the state failed to warn Libby residents about the dangers of a nearby vermiculite mine.

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock in Helena approved the deal on Sept. 8. He had dismissed the victim's claims nine years ago in a decision later overturned by the state Supreme Court.

Sherlock also approved attorney fees previously reported at $14 million.

The Daily Inter Lake first reported the settlement.

An estimated 400 people have died and 1,750 have been sickened by asbestos released from a now-shuttered W.R. Grace mine.

Dust from the mine once blanketed the small community about 50 miles south of the Canadian border. Cleanup continues at a cost to date topping $370 million.