Asbestos defendant tries new tack to evade criminal charges

Associated Press – October 7, 2007 3:25 PM ET

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) – W.R. Grace is challenging a federal appeals court ruling that restored criminal charges of “knowing endangerment” to the government’s asbestos case against the company.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed or revised six decisions handed down by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula.

Molloy’s decisions dealt a blow to the government’s case and gutted its theory of knowing endangerment — which lies at the core of allegations that top executives intentionally concealed the dangers associated with asbestos-contaminated vermiculite mined near Libby.

But a week after the panel ruled in favor of the federal government, attorneys for Grace filed motions indicating the company will fight the decision.

Attorneys for Grace requested more time to petition the court for a rehearing. The extension was granted, giving Grace until November 5th to submit documents arguing the panel erred in its findings of fact. Grace will request a rehearing before the same three-judge panel, before the whole court, or both.

Grace spokesman Greg Euston declined to say what legal basis lawyers are using to develop their argument. He says the company’s petition will speak for itself.

Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com

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