(MarketWatch) Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s National Indemnity Co. has to pay more than $43 million of Montana’s asbestos-related settlement costs, a state judge has ruled.
Montana had reached a $43 million settlement in 2009 with people injured by asbestos at a vermiculite mining operation in Libby, Mont. The victims claimed the state had knowledge of unsafe conditions at the mine for decades and failed to protect workers.
Judge Holly Brown said in a state district court ruling on March 1 that National Indemnity breached its duty to defend the state from lawsuits related to the Libby mine.
Berkshire, a conglomerate run by billionaire Warren Buffett, has taken on growing responsibility for asbestos-related insurance claims in recent years. Insurers including Liberty Mutual and American International Group Inc. AIG, +0.78% have paid Berkshire billions of dollars to take responsibility for future asbestos claims tied to past policies, in an arrangement known as retroactive reinsurance.