US Supreme Court refuses to hear Dow's asbestos appeal

2003/11/03

WASHINGTON (CNI)--The US Supreme Court decided Monday not to hear an appeal by Dow Chemical’s Union Carbide unit regarding an asbestos-related case in West Virginia.

The Supreme Court did not comment on the case.

The case sought to challenge a ruling of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals that left Dow open to damage claims that Union Carbide facilities contained dangerous asbestos between 1945 and 1980. Dow acquired Union Carbide in February 2001.

In October last year a West Virginia jury exonerated Union Carbide from some asbestos claims, according to a Dow Chemical press statement released shortly after the decision. But the jury also found that Union Carbide could be potentially responsible for some people’s injuries due to exposure to products containing the company’s asbestos fibre, Calidria.

The jury found Union Carbide potentially responsible for people claiming asbestos exposure at six of the company’s industrial sites, Dow said.

At the time, Dow said the finding of the West Virginia jury was due to the "unlawful and procedurally deficient nature" of the mass litigation trial.

The West Virginia case, according to Dow, originally involved some 8000 claimants and more than 250 corporations that made or sold products that contained asbestos.

Settlements eventually left about 2000 claimants involved in a trial focusing on Union Carbide. This phase of the trail revolved around the question of liability and a punitive damages figure based on compensatory damages meted out later.

Officials at Midland, Michigan-based Dow were not immediately available Monday to respond to the Supreme Court's action.