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Asbestos ruling upheld in Montana towards Berkshire unit – Enterprise Insurance

The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling requiring a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. unit to pay $ 97.8 million in asbestos claims and other costs to the state under a comprehensive general liability insurance policy it provided for 1973 exhibited until 1975.

The 69-page, 6: 1 majority ruling in the National Indemnity Co. V. State of Montana essentially upholds a March 2018 ruling by a lower court in Bozeman against the Berkshire Hathaway unit.

The court found in the earlier ruling that the state had known about dangerous conditions, injuries and deaths related to a vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, since 1942.

The mine, which later became a Superfund site, was owned and operated by W.R. Grace and Co. and their predecessors operated. The insurance-related litigation concerned an underlying litigation against the state related to its regulatory role.

In August 2019, the lower court followed its ruling with a ruling requiring national compensation to pay $ 97.8 million to the state.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, that consists of $ 26.8 million for the remainder of a 2009 global settlement, with the National Indemnity credited with the $ 16.1 million it contributed and $ 21.3 million – dollars in accompanying pre-trial interest; $ 29.6 million to reimburse the state for indemnities paid to beneficiaries suspended during the insurance period and $ 4.9 million in accompanying pre-trial interest; $ 6.9 million for state attorney fees and expenses paid between 2005 and 2019 to defend the claims; $ 4.9 million in pre-trial interest on state defense costs; and $ 3.6 million in state attorney fees and expenses incurred in defending the litigation through March 2019.

The court referred two questions to the lower court: the number of insured events and the resulting calculation of the insurance limits as well as the eligibility of applicants who were only exposed to asbestos before the contract term.

In a dissenting opinion, it was said that National had not violated its duty to defend the state.

The lawyers on the case did not respond to requests for comment.

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