Following $36.5 Million Verdict, Asbestos Victim Pursues Further Legal Action

Delaying legal proceedings is a strategy that’s frequently used by asbestos companies facing mesothelioma litigation. The tactic takes advantage of the physical, emotional, and financial toll that asbestos-related diseases take on victims, pushing them to accept settlements that are lower than what they would likely be awarded in court. Knowing this, an asbestos victim who recently won $36.5 million in damages from a Libby, Montana mine’s insurance company following a protracted legal battle is now pursuing further action accusing the company of “opportunistic breach.”


Asbestos Victim’s Second Lawsuit Accuses Company of Actions Motivated by Greed

Ralph V. Hutt’s $36.5 million jury award is viewed as a victory for him as well as many others who blame their mesothelioma and other illnesses on W.R. Grace & Co. The Libby, Montana mine exposed countless people to asbestos. His original suit against their insurer, Zurich American Insurance Company, accused them of conspiring with the company to hide the dangers of the carcinogenic material.

Though the jury agreed with Mr. Hutt and awarded him $6.5 million in damages and an additional $30 million for Zurich having conspired with its client, the process of reaching that verdict took an extended period of time because of the company’s legal maneuverings. Mr. Hutt is now seeking redress for these delays, which he says were purposeful and meant to force him to settle and to lead the company’s other victims with mesothelioma to accept settlements as well. He notes that in the time it took to reach the verdict, the company earned far more in profits than they would ever be required to pay out to victims.

Opportunistic Breach Accusation Follows Bellweather Asbestos Decision

Though the significant jury award is considered a positive sign for other W. R. Grace & Co. mesothelioma victims seeking to follow in Mr. Hutt’s legal footsteps, his subsequent claim notes the price that he paid as a result of the legal process’ extended timeline. He accuses the company of having delayed the outcome on purpose. This is known as opportunistic breach.

According to Mr. Hutt’s attorneys, “Zurich used leveraging designed to exploit Hutt’s vulnerable position through withheld medical expense and low-ball offers,” denying his claims for basic healthcare services including supplemental oxygen. They accuse the company of having done so to weaken his resolve. In their summation, 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.”

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Paul Danziger

Paul Danziger


Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.

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