Judge in Grace Trial Denies Change-of-Venue Motion

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – On the eve of jury selection in the federal criminal trial against W.R. Grace & Co., the judge Wednesday denied a request by defendants to file a motion for change of venue.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy had earlier denied a September 2005 request to move the trial.

The Grace defendants filed a motion on Tuesday, asking Molloy’s permission to file another change-of-venue request. The motion apparently was sparked by a series of articles in the Missoulian newspaper about the upcoming trial.

Molloy on Wednesday denied the request, “subject to renewal in the event that a fair and impartial jury cannot be seated.” The trial is to begin with jury selection Thursday.

The case involves public exposure to asbestos that caused hundreds of deaths and illnesses in the Libby area, where Grace used to operate a vermiculite mine.

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