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Montana Supreme Court Finds BNSF Is Not Shielded From Liability For Libby Asbestos Cases

March 16, 2020

The Montana Supreme Court recently entered a unanimous opinion in our cases against BNSF.

The Montana Supreme Court affirmed the Asbestos Court by holding that “BNSF’s handling of asbestos under the facts presented here constitutes an abnormally dangerous activity for which BNSF is strictly liable.”

Here are some articles from the Daily Interlake and the Flathead Beacon on the decision:

Daily Interlake Article: Supreme Court rules BNSF ‘strictly liable’ for asbestos injury claims

Flathead Beacon Article: Montana Supreme Court: BNSF Not Shielded from Liability in Libby Asbestos Cases

The Montana Supreme Court also affirmed the Asbestos Court’s finding that the federal preemption does not bar claims against BNSF that BNSF cannot apportion fault or negate causation by pointing to W.R. Grace’s conduct.

On the issue of whether BNSF was entitled to the common carrier exception to strict liability, the Montana Supreme Court sent the issue back to the Asbestos Court to determine which BNSF activities were “transportation of vermiculite” (for which BNSF may be negligent) and which BNSF “other activities” occurred (for which BNSF is strictly liable).