Lawsuit: Railroad workers exposed to asbestos

For many years, asbestos was commonly used in various locomotive parts because of its heat-resistant properties. Certain parts on trains, such as the brakes, generate so much heat during operation that asbestos was used through the 1980s to protect other parts. However, when asbestos-containing parts on these trains begin to wear down and deteriorate, the asbestos can be released into the air and is then breathed in by any of the workers nearby.

Even though asbestos is no longer used to make new train parts, many of the older components that are still in use today are putting workers in danger. Unfortunately, for those who worked on the railroad more than a decade ago, the damage has already been done. Many of these people have developed serious work-related illnesses because of the asbestos exposure, including mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Four men recently filed a lawsuit against their former employer, BNSF Railway Co., after they developed a variety of respiratory problems and illnesses. According to the lawsuit, the men are each requesting $2.5 million in damages for a wide range of effects they have suffered since they were negligently exposed to asbestos beginning in the 1970s. In addition to asbestos, the workers also say there were exposed to welding fumes, silica and diesel exhaust during their employment at BNSF Railway Co.

Reportedly, the company did not provide workers with appropriate protective equipment on the job and failed to properly inspect the equipment to determine whether their employees were at risk of working with contaminated materials.

In addition to covering their medical costs, the lawsuit seeks to recover damages associated with pain and suffering, lost wages and the emotional anguish that comes with the devastating diagnosis. Their ongoing respiratory problems will continue to hinder their abilities to work as well.

Source: Madison Record, “Former railroad workers seek $10M in FELA suit against BNSF; Plaintiffs allege asbestos exposure caused respiratory problems,” Bethany Krajelis, Nov. 20, 2012