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W.R. Grace & Co. Lose Latest Appeal

A federal appeals court declined a request by lawyers representing W.R. Grace & Co. and six former executives to overturn charges they claimed were filed after the statute of limitations expired.

The company and its former executives are facing a number of charges which include violating the Clean Air Act, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. If convicted the government could issue a fine of nearly $300 million while individual defendants could face up to 15 years in prison.

The case was set to go to trial in September 2006 but a month before the trial date, Grace & Co. lawyers argued that the charges were filed after their legal limits. A three-judge panel overruled trial court limits that according to one prosecutor would have made it impossible for the trial to proceed.

Government prosecutors allege that Grace is responsible for releasing large amounts of asbestos laden vermiculite into Libby, MT. They claim that Grace has interfered with the cleanup and that more than one thousand people have become ill from asbestos related diseases as a result of their actions.

Grace & Co. filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001 due to the burden of asbestos litigation from the thousands of cases filed against them.