12 May 2009 – Mayer Brown LLP, a leading global law firm, scored a major victory on behalf of its client Henry Eschenbach, a former W.R. Grace executive. Mr. Eschenbach was acquitted on May 8 by a federal jury on all criminal charges in U.S. v. W.R. Grace, a case described as the biggest environmental crime prosecution in U.S. history. The company and two other former executives were also acquitted.
Mr. Eschenbach, along with the other former Grace officials and the company, were indicted in 2005 on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and violation of the Clean Air Act in connection with asbestos contamination of the small mining town of Libby, Montana. Mayer Brown attorneys, working with other members of the defense, successfully pursued an extensive series of pretrial motions that significantly narrowed the government’s case.
During the 11-week trial, attorneys argued that the company and the executives did not knowingly endanger the community, worked to ensure that the conditions in Libby were safe, and did not conspire to defraud the EPA. In addition, the defense pursued allegations of prosecutorial misconduct during trial stemming from the government’s failure to disclose an immunity deal it gave one of its witnesses and documents relating to its relationship with the government’s star witness.
“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict,” said David Krakoff, lead defense attorney for Mr. Eschenbach. “We were confident that Mr. Eschenbach acted in compliance with the law and we thank the jury for carefully considering all the evidence in the case and reaching this just verdict.”The Mayer Brown team was led by David Krakoff and included partner Jamie Parkinson, and associate Laurie Randell. All are members of Mayer Brown’s White Collar Defense & Compliance group in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.