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Grace Asks Court to Shield BNSF

Lawyers for W.R. Grace & Co. asked the judge presiding over its bankruptcy case to prohibit asbestos related lawsuits against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) arguing that evidence from those proceedings might be used to form new lawsuits against the ailing company.

BNSF objected to the legal protection proposed by W.R. Grace stating that they wished to defend themselves in court. They are currently engaged in 113 lawsuits in regards to their handling and transportation of vermiculite ore.

W.R. Grace continues to face legal woes as they balance the more than 100,000 outstanding asbestos claims while creating a plan to emerge from bankruptcy. Attorneys argued that evidence and information gathered from BNSF lawsuits could then be used against the company. BNSF was responsible for transporting vermiculite ore from their mine in Libby, Montana until it closed in 1990.

Since the company is under bankruptcy protection, none of the civil lawsuits against the company can proceed in court. Given the number of cases they would have to fight, company officials have been trying to broker a settlement fund for asbestos victims.

In addition to the civil lawsuits, company officials are facing federal criminal charges which are currently on hold pending legal appeals.