Italian Court Sends Eternit Asbestos Executives to Jail

Legislation & Litigation

Written by Tim Povtak

Reading Time: 3 mins
Publication Date: 02/13/2012
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us


"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite’s Article


Povtak, T. (2020, October 16). Italian Court Sends Eternit Asbestos Executives to Jail. Retrieved May 29, 2023, from


Povtak, Tim. "Italian Court Sends Eternit Asbestos Executives to Jail.", 16 Oct 2020,


Povtak, Tim. "Italian Court Sends Eternit Asbestos Executives to Jail." Last modified October 16, 2020.

In a message that could reverberate in courtrooms around the world, a three-judge panel in Turin, Italy, found two former executives of an asbestos-products conglomerate guilty of involuntary manslaughter, sentencing them to 16 years in jail and more than $50 million in fines.

Stephan Schmidheiny, a Swiss billionaire, and Louis de Cartier de Marchienne, a baron from Belgium, were accused of negligence in exposing workers at four asbestos-cement factories and townspeople who lived nearby.

They were major shareholders in Eternit, a fiber cement company that made asbestos-laced, roof coverings and pipes. The charges against them involved more than 2,000-asbestos-related deaths.

An exposure to asbestos fibers can cause a variety of respiratory illnesses, including asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer.

Renato Balduzzi, Italian Health minister was elated, describing the verdict as “without exaggeration, truly historic.”

The verdict in the trial, which began in 2009, was announced Monday.

The trial was watched closely by anti-asbestos advocates around the world, including Linda Reinstein of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Association, the leading advocacy group in the United States.

“It is not just a landmark case for the workers, or the people of Italy, but rather represents an opportunity to redefine justice around the world,” Reinstein said in a statement Monday. “This is a landmark criminal case against those who manufacture and produce asbestos.”

Schmidheiny, 64, and De Cartier, 90, were not in the courtroom when the verdicts was announced, but it prompted considerable celebration from the hundreds of people who had crowded into the courtroom and the halls outside to watch.

Many were families of those who suffered health problems from asbestos. Many who were exposed to asbestos at the factories still are waiting to determine if they will be stricken. There is a latency period for mesothelioma that can take anywhere from 10 to 50 years after first exposure.

Eternit in Italy went bankrupt in 1986, which was six years before asbestos was banned in the country. Although asbestos remains legal in the United States, it was banned across Europe in 2005.

An estimated 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. The World Health Organization estimates that 125 million people are exposed to asbestos in the workplace and that 100,000 people die each year from an asbestos-related illness.

Prosecutors in this trial charged the two executives with failing to provide adequate safety protection for workers, despite knowing how dangerous the asbestos was. The investigation into the practice spanned five years.

The Center of Public Integrity, based in Washington, D.C.,  produced an investigation into the global asbestos trade in 2010 — Dangers in the Dust — that detailed some of the practices formerly used by Eternit.

“I hope that this lesson resounds around the world — corporations cannot knowingly continue to poison workers and communities with such reckless disregard for human life, and call it routine business,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the National Resources Defense Council, in an e-mail to the Center for Public Integrity.

The LePresse news agency in Italy, said the defendants were ordered to pay $32.5 million to the town of Casale Monferrato, where one of the factories were located, and another $26 million to those in the Piedmont region, another part of Italy.

The damages involved civil suits brought against the two defendants by an estimated 6,300 people.

legal scale of justice icon
Access Trust Funds, Grants & Compensation for Mesothelioma
Get Financial Assistance