Recent studies have found that on-the-job exposure to carcinogens have contributed to railroad employees developing many life-threatening diseases including kidney cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer, bone cancer, mesothelioma, leukemia and multiple myeloma.
What’s the Problem?
Railroad workers are at risk of developing occupational cancers as a result of the presence of known carcinogens in the workplace environment. Benzene, asbestos, chemical solvents, and exposure to welding fumes are common examples of how railroad workers can get cancer on the job. Unfortunately, these diseases often go undiagnosed for years or even decades, making treatment difficult and increasing the likelihood of severe injury and even death.
Which Cancers are Found in Railroad Workers?
Our lawyers are accepting potential lawsuits for current and ex-railroad employees who were diagnosed with the following types of cancer:
- Lung cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Colon cancer
- Bone cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Rhabdomyosarcoma (rare child cancer found in clusters around CSX Rail yards)
- And more
PLEASE NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of injuries being investigated by our lawyers. If you are a current or former railroad worker who was diagnosed with any type of cancer, contact us NOW at (866) 588-0600 – you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries through the filing of a lawsuit, and we can help.
Asbestos Exposure in Railroad Workers
From 1990 to 1999, the railroad industry was the 4th most frequently listed industry on the death certificates of people over the age of 15 who died from asbestosis, a lung disease caused by the inhalation of asbestos, according to the Rand Corporation (PDF). Studies have shown that patients with asbestosis have a greater risk of developing malignant mesothelioma cancer. The large number of deaths in railroad workers from asbestosis is not surprising given the fact that the railroad industry has routinely used asbestos products for heat shielding and insulation.
Radioactive Materials Transported as Cargo
Beginning in the 1960s, radioactive cargo including enriched uranium and a wide variety of other dangerous materials was being transported across the U.S. by train, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The problem is that many railroad companies failed to provide any industrial safety protection for railroad workers involved in handling and transporting these materials. Additionally, since there is no way to detect radioactivity from these substances, workers are completely unaware of just how contaminated the materials are, unless the employer is actively screening radioactive materials.
How Can I Find Out if My Cancer was Caused by Occupational Exposure?
It requires an occupational medical or cancer specialist to determine whether a particular cancer or syndrome was caused by on-the-job exposure to contaminated materials, radiation, asbestos or benzene/diesel fumes from railroad worksites. Whether our lawyers can assist with a claim of this kind requires a medical specialist’s opinion.
Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA)
In 1908, congress passed the Federal Employers Liability Act. or FELA, in order to give railroad workers who are injured on the job a means of legal recourse and protective rights. Under FELA, injured railroad employees can file railroad lawsuits directly against their employers if they can prove negligence in causing the injury.
How Does FELA Work?
In the case that a railroad employee is injured on the job, the term ‘negligence’ refers to the railroad’s failure to do something it should have done or having done something it should not have done. Railroad companies can be found negligent in cases where they:
- Fail to provide a safe work environment;
- Fail to provide proper tools or equipment;
- Fail to perform frequent inspections and maintenance, or
- Fail to adequately train their employees.
Under FELA, railroad companies can also be found liable if they violate statutes that were enacted to protect railroad employees. These laws were passed to ensure that all railroad workers have a safe working environment by setting rigorous standards for maintenance, rules regarding the use and handling of hazardous materials, and acceptable working conditions.
FELA has also established that a railroad company’s negligence need not be the sole cause of an accident. If the company is ruled to be at fault, even to a slight degree, it may be found negligent and the injured employee has the right to recover compensation.
Unlike worker’s compensation laws, FELA cases are not bound by a predetermined maximum level of compensation. Instead, railroad injury rulings are based on a number of factors including:
- Lost wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Out-of-pocket expenses, and
- Impairments to quality of life.
Our lawyers will calculate potential railroad cancer settlements to include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. In the event that a railroad worker dies as a result of their injuries, a wrongful death claim will take into account the family’s loss of income, and while there is no provision for loss of consortium, you can make a claim on the pain and suffering your loved one experienced before their death.
Railroad Workers Who May be Eligible for Compensation
- Track maintenance
- And more
Former Norfolk Southern Employee Files Lawsuit Alleging Cancer
October 15, 2019 – A former conductor for the Norfolk Southern Railway Company has filed a lawsuit alleging that his job caused cancer, according to WRCB. Plaintiff Ronnie Sparks claims that he was exposed to asbestos, diesel exhaust and other toxic chemicals during his 30 years with the railroad company. The complaint further alleges that Norfolk Southern violated FELA safety regulations and never complied with OSHA regulations.
Louisiana Man Alleges Cancer from Railroad Work
July 13, 2017 – A man from St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, who formerly worked as a railroad carman/mechanic has filed a lawsuit alleging that exposure to hazardous chemicals caused his kidney cancer.
According to the lawsuit, Plaintiff Alvin J. Porte was regularly exposed to the hazardous chemical tetrachloride during his tenure as a railroad carman/mechanic with the Illinois Central Railroad Co. Porte claims that chronic exposure to tetrachloride for years caused him to develop kidney cancer, which he was diagnosed with in June 2014. The railroad company is responsible for Plaintiff’s injury because it failed to ensure a safe workplace, according to the lawsuit.
Porte is seeking damages for all sums reasonable in the premises, with legal interest, costs of the proceedings, and for all general and equitable relief.
The complaint was filed June 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana under case number 2:17-cv-05657, citing FELA.
Pennsylvania Railroad Worker Alleges FELA Violations after Kidney Cancer Diagnosis
May 31, 2017 – A Pennsylvania railroad worker who developed kidney cancer has filed a lawsuit against his former employers, claiming they violated FELA.
Plaintiff Kenneth L. Kumpf filed the suit earlier this month in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, alleging that the defendants exposed him to carcinogens on a near daily basis for almost 40 years, which caused him to develop kidney cancer.
The complaint was filed against Penn Central Corporation (doing business as “American Premier Underwriters, Inc.”) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Consolidated Rail (Conrail) Corporation in Philadelphia, and Norfolk Southern Railway Company, of Norfolk, Virginia.
According to the suit, Kumpf was exposed to various toxic substances “including but not limited to chemicals, solvents, diesel fuel/exhaust, benzene, heavy metals, manganese and rock/mineral dust and fibers.”
Continued exposure to these carcinogens at the workplace for years caused or contributed to Kumpf’s development of kidney cancer, the complaint states.
Plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated FELA by failing to provide him with a safe work environment and exposed him to materials which were “deleterious, poisonous, toxic and highly harmful” to their employees’ health.
Kumpf is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 and recoverable under FELA, plus legal expenses. The lawsuit is: Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 170502995.
Illinois Railroad Company Found Liable in Mesothelioma Lawsuit
January 13, 2017 – A Mississippi court has found the Illinois Central Railroad Company liable for the death of one of its former employees who died from mesothelioma.
The lawsuit was filed by Clara Hagan, the daughter of a deceased railroad worker named Bennie Oakes. The jury that originally heard the case determined Mr. Oakes had incurred $250,000 in damages, but that he was 80% responsible for the development of his mesothelioma – thus the Illinois Central Railroad Company was only responsible for 20%, or $50,000.
Following the verdict, the railroad company investigated and found that Oakes had received more than $74,000 from asbestos trusts from other companies, and, as a result, they moved for a setoff of the $50,000 award. The court denied the motion, indicating that Oakes’ family was now owed the $50,000 plus 8% interest.
The company then appealed the denial, but the appeals court again confirmed the award, stating that existing laws do “not allow for a defendant to avoid payment of damages based on compensation to the plaintiff from a third party that was not a party to the action.”
Asbestos was used in the manufacturing of train and locomotive components until the 1970s. Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) severely restricted asbestos use in construction materials, railroads continued using it extensively, and in many cases railroad companies were aware of the health risks and failed to warn employees. Exposure to asbestos is still a significant risk among railroad workers if their employees continue to use components that were manufactured before the 1980s.
Union Pacific Railroad Sued Over Employee’s Kidney Cancer Death
October 17, 2016 – A special administrator of a deceased man’s estate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad alleging that the company was negligent and took insufficient measures to prevent the cancer death of one of its former employees.
According to the lawsuit, Stanley Adams was employed with Union Pacific Railroad Company from 1974 to 2009, during which time he was exposed to toxic substances that caused him to develop kidney cancer.
Prior to his death from complications of the disease on February 15, 2015, he suffered great pain, mental anguish, lost income and medical expenses, according to the lawsuit.
Plaintiff claims that Union Pacific was ultimately responsible for the death because the company negligently exposed Adams to asbestos, cigarette smoke and diesel fumes, failing to provide a safe and adequate work environment.
The complaint was filed against Union Pacific Railroad Company on September 14, 2016 in St. Clair County Circuit Court under case number 16-L-488. Plaintiff is requesting a jury trial and compensation in excess of $50,000, plus the cost of the suit.
Illinois Jury Awards $7.5M to Railroad Worker with Cancer
September 29, 2016 – A jury in Madison County, Illinois, awarded a former Union Pacific railroad employee who developed cancer after decades of work $7.5 million in damages.
According to the lawsuit, Plaintiff James Brown developed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) as a direct result of prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals at Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW), where he was employed for 18 years until the company was purchased by Union Pacific in 1995, where he worked for another 13 years. Brown alleges exposures to creosote, degreasing solvents, and lead.
Plaintiff alleges that he initially developed myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) before it progressed into AML, which he was diagnosed with in August 2008. As a result of his condition, Brown claims to suffer from bad eyes, legs and feet, weight gain from his prescription medications, impotence, graft versus host disease and memory loss, among other serious health conditions.
During his years as a railroad employee, Brown was responsible for picking up ties and dropping them off, as well as installing “soaking wet” ties. According to the lawsuit, Brown was required to wash the equipment and railroad ties, which left him covered in creosote. He claims that his wet clothes allowed the chemicals to soak into his skin.
Brown was eventually provided a hard hat and gloves, but had no other protective gear despite regulations which required the railroad company to provide such equipment beginning in 1986, according to the lawsuit.
Plaintiff further alleges that no one used protective equipment until Union Pacific took over as successor to CNW in 1995, which makes Union Pacific liable for the damages. The complaint states that defendant knew or should have known about the toxicity of the substances Brown was handling for years, and knew how to handle these substances safely but failed to take action.
The complaint was filed against Union Pacific Railroad on December 3, 2010, in Madison County Circuit Court under case number 10-L-1213.
Do I Have a Railroad Cancer Lawsuit?
The Workplace and Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in railroad cancer lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free Confidential Case Evaluation: Again, If you were diagnosed with cancer after working as a railroad employee, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.