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Railroad workers sue for workplace lung disease

Mesothelioma is one of the most deadly work-related diseases. The condition, which plagues people across North Carolina, is a cancer that is known to be caused by asbestos. Mesothelioma affects the lungs and respiratory tract, and it causes shortness of breath, chest pain and sometimes unexplained weight loss. The condition can take 10 years or longer to diagnose because of its slow rate of development.

A group of Union Pacific railroad employees is suing their employer after developing the condition. The workers' employer and manufacturers could be responsible for exposing workers to dangerous products in the case because contaminated equipment was still in operation at the railroad facilities. The workers claim that their employer was negligent by allowing the workplace injuries.

Occupational safety and health officials have known for decades that asbestos is an incredibly dangerous material. Authorities report that the defendant is being sued for using asbestos-containing materials after being aware of the unique hazards and risks associated with prolonged exposure. In addition, workers were not provided with adequate protective equipment, including respirators. Air monitoring was never conducted to determine whether workers were even at risk, according to the lawsuit. Furthermore, the company was aware that asbestos posed a serious health risk, but it failed to educate workers about the devastating health effects that could result from asbestos exposure.

The plaintiffs, who were track laborers from 1969 to 2012, claim that their employer was negligent because the company failed to conduct medical examinations to make sure its employees were safe. Contaminated railroad cars were also left on the company's scheduled routes.

The workers are seeking compensation for their medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering and mental anguish. They are also seeking damages for physical impairment as well as the anxiety related to a potential cancer diagnosis. Union Pacific would be required to pay for past, current and future medical care for the victims in this case.

Source: The Southeast Texas Record, "Railroad employees sue claiming decades of asbestos exposure," Michelle Keahey, Jan. 28, 2013

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