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Ninth Circuit To Review Asbestos Ruling

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A 15-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed to reconsider a decision that reversed a number of pretrial rulings in the government's case against W.R. Grace & Co., the owner of an asbestos-contaminated vermiculite mine in Libby, Mont.

The decisions up for review include the panel's reversal of U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy's ruling that federal prosecutors could not claim that W.R. Grace and its top officials conspired to "knowingly endanger" hundreds of miners and Libby residents by exposing them to asbestos.

A 2005 indictment charged the company and its former managers of hiding the health risks of working in the mine, which has been closed since 1990. The case spans 26 years, involves at least 1,200 victims and more than 200 potential witnesses.


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