6 additional judges tapped to handle Asbestos Claims Court's thousands of cases
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Posted by: Joe Menden
The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday appointed six additional Asbestos Claim Court judges to handle thousands of claims before the court that are pending against dozens of defendants.
The Asbestos Claims Court was created in November 2017, with the Honorable Amy Eddy, 11th Judicial District in Kalispell, appointed as the judge for pretrial proceedings only for the 545 that had been identified by that time.
According to Tuesday's order, there are now 2,229 claimants alleging exposure to asbestos in Libby, with 200 additional cases per year anticipated to be filed for the foreseeable future. Of those, 1,394 cases have been moved onto a deferred docket for people who have an asbestos-related disease but do not currently have functional symptoms. Once they meet established medical criteria, they will be moved to the active docket for their claims to be resolved. There are currently 835 claimants on the active docket.
The Supreme Court’s order said that the additional judges were appointed to to more equitably and efficiently meet the demands of the litigation. They are:
- Judge Matthew Cuffe, 19th Judicial District, Libby;
- Judge Michael McMahon, 1st Judicial District, Helena;
- Judge Jon Oldenburg, 10th Judicial District, Lewistown;
- Judge John Parker, 8th Judicial District, Great Falls;
- Judge Gregory Pinski, 8th Judicial District, Great Falls; and
- Judge Dan Wilson, 11th Judicial District, Kalispell.
These pending cases will be divided between the judges, who will preside over the matters through settlement or trial.