Libby Miner Awarded $36.5 Million in Asbestos Case Sues Insurance Company for Purposeful Delays

When Ralph V. Hutt won his $36.5 million asbestos lawsuit against a Libby, Montana mine’s insurance company, it set the stage for victory for scores of victims diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. But the former miner is not done with his quest for justice: his attorneys have now filed a complaint in federal court, accusing that company of systematically and deliberately dragging out the case in order to force him into a settlement that would improve their position against other victims awaiting their turn to have their claims against the company heard.

Libby, Montana

Insurance Company Accused of Opportunistic Breach in Asbestos Case

Mr. Hutt’s original claim against Zurich American Insurance Company was considered a bellwether case that would impact the outcomes of several other mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease claims. Though he was awarded $6.5 million in damages and an additional $30 million for the company having conspired with its client, W.R. Grace and Company to conceal the dangers of asbestos, the extended period of time required to achieve the victory took a significant toll on his health. Mr. Hutt’s attorneys claim that delay was strategic on the part of the insurer.

Referring to Zurich’s actions as opportunistic breach, the asbestos victim’s attorneys accuse the company of working to extend litigation indefinitely in an effort to force him to settle. They say the company’s intent was to discourage other claims, and that while doing so they made more money on profits and interests than they would ever have to pay victims. In their claim the attorneys state, “It is profitable for Zurich to breach its claim settlement duties and thereby increase the time over which it can generate income on money owed to them,” and that “Zurich used leveraging designed to exploit Hutt’s vulnerable position through withheld medical expense and low-ball offers.”

Insurance Company Denied Asbestos Victim Support for Basic Healthcare Service 

Included in the claim against Zurich are charges that they denied claims including support for basic healthcare services like supplemental oxygen. The attorneys accuse the company of adopting this strategy in hopes that Mr. Hutt would settle, thus leaving them in a better position when facing others affected by asbestos in Libby’s mines

In a scathing summary of their position, Mr. Hutt’s attorneys wrote, ““Because Hutt and similarly situated Libby Asbestos Claimants require the settlement money to pay for medical expenses, to otherwise address the harm arising from their asbestos injuries, and to secure a just resolution within their lifetimes, Zurich’s commodity profit scheme literally makes profit a function of human suffering.”

If you or someone you love has been harmed by the actions of an asbestos company, the Patient Advocates at can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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