The New Jersey Superior Appellate Court moved to reinstate a case against Scotts, the manufacturer of “Turf Builder” lawn fertilizer. Scotts had previously used vermiculite supplied from mines in Libby Montana. Libby mining operations were producing ores heavily contaminated with highly friable tremolite asbestos, a specific form of highly dangerous asbestos that became known as “Libby asbestos”.
The presence of asbestos in the lawn fertilizer would have exposed any user to asbestos fiber dust. Asbestos causes mesothelioma and there is no safe exposure level of asbestos.
The lawsuit was brought in 2012 by Lorenz Brandecker, who used Scotts Turf Builder from 1967 to 1980 for his lawn. Turf Builder containing asbestos-laced vermiculite would have exposed Lorenz when the produced was used. Lorenz was diagnosed with mesothelioma and passed away in 2012. The lawsuit became a wrongful death mesothelioma case.
The defendant claimed it had no samples from that time period to test, and won summery judgement. After Scotts discovered samples of Libby Montana vermiculite law fertilizer in 2014 the case was appealed, with plaintiffs counsel arguing this newly discovered evidence would change the result of prior rulings and allow for evidence to be found asbestos was in the product. The appeals court agreed.
The Libby Montana vermiculite mine contained a highly dangerous friable form of asbestos called tremolite-actinolite asbestos. EPA testing found it in dust, soil, water, animals and fish, and declared the Libby Asbestos site a Superfund site in 2002. The EPA created a near two decade plan to cleanup the site and begin redevelopment by 2018. The asbestos contamination was so widespread the EPA issued a public emergency in 2009 due to the local prevalence of asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos diseases.