Trial Set for February in W.R. Grace Case

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – Trial in the federal criminal case against W.R. Grace & Co. is scheduled to begin in February.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said Friday he wants jury selection to begin Feb. 19, with the trial getting under way the following Monday.

The case involves public exposure to asbestos in the Libby area, where Grace used to operate a vermiculite mine.

The government alleges the chemical manufacturer and several of its former managers conspired to hide health risks associated with the mine. Grace has denied any criminal wrongdoing.

Friday’s status conference marked the first time in more than two years that the defendants had been in Molloy’s courtroom.

Now that the pretrial issues have been resolved, Molloy said he wants to get to trial and told the attorneys involved to be ready.

He expects the trial to take at least three months, with breaks scheduled for a few holidays and for a March hearing before Grace’s bankruptcy judge.

Attorneys for both sides were tightlipped following Friday’s hearing.

“Great to be here in Missoula, but I can’t say anything else,” said David Bernick, a lawyer for Grace.

Prosecutor Kris McLean also declined to comment.