Montana Public Radio

Feds Decline To Intervene In BNSF Asbestos Case Alleging Clinic Fraud

Feb 23, 2021

The federal government has declined to intervene in a lawsuit about a Libby asbestos clinic. The lawsuit alleges that the clinic committed fraud by accessing federal funding for unnecessary health screenings and treatments.

BNSF Railway filed its complaint in U.S. District Court in 2019, alleging that the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) committed fraud by invoicing federal agencies for unnecessary health screenings. BNSF also alleged CARD misdiagnosed patients with asbestos-related diseases and used federal funds to treat them, a possible violation of the False Claims Act. 

BNSF shared its allegations with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The case remained sealed until the U.S. Justice Department last week decided not to intervene in the case.

In a letter explaining its decision, the department said it was not making a statement on the merits of the case and could still intervene at a later date. The justice department said it would also need to sign-off on any settlement between CARD and BNSF.

In a statement, CARD denies all allegations of fraud and alleges that BNSF is using the case in an effort to undermine the clinic after the Montana Supreme Court last year found that BNSF was partially liable for harm caused by the asbestos it transported out of Libby.