Creosote exposure proved harmful to railroad worker

Jury Awards $7.5 Million to Railroad Worker Who Developed Leukemia from Creosote Exposure

Railroad workers are exposed to many harmful chemicals in their work on the tracks. A jury recently awarded $7.5 million to a man from Edwardsville in Illinois who developed leukemia after handling creosote soaked railroad ties for Chicago & North Western Railway.

James Brown worked on the railroad for more than three decades. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and claimed the diagnosis was caused by the failure of his employer to provide protective equipment.

Brown’s attorney, David Damick filed a suit six years ago against Union Pacific Railroad, for whom Brown worked for 13 years. He alleged most of the exposure and alleged negligence occurred during the 18 years that Brown worked for Union Pacific’s predecessor, Chicago & North Western Railway, stated a report in the Intelligencer.

Damick said his client was repeatedly exposure to harmful creosote over a period of 18 years.

He argued the railroad knew about the dangers of creosote decades ago but failed to act. In 1986, the railroad received a notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about the dangers of creosote and benzene exposure.

CNW knew about the dangers of creosote and benzene exposure as early as 1986 when they received a notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It instructed the railroad to comply with certain safety measures.

Creosote exposure proved harmful to railroad worker
Railroad worker was exposed to creosote

The jury heard the railroad failed to comply with the notice. It did not provide employees with gloves, respirators, goggles, or other protective equipment.

Brown started his work as laborer for CNW in 1976. He frequently loaded and unloaded creosote-soaked railroad ties.

The Dangers of Creosote

Brown often returned home after work covered from head to toe in wet creosote, he testified.

He was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS in 2008. The disease subsequently developed into acute myeloid leukemia, or AML.

During the trial, several medical experts testified that even the smallest exposure to creosote, benzene and carbolineum can cause AML.

The defense claimed that the railroad worker’s exposure to those toxins was in insufficient amounts to cause AML.

The railroads fight cases like this hard. Mr. Brown’s was no exception. Attorneys for Union Pacific questioned the science linking creosote exposure to cancer. They tried to exonerate the giant railroad company on the grounds Brown was employed by CNW when the exposure occurred.

However, the jury in Madison County came close to awarding Brown the $8 million he was requesting when it agreed to a $7.5 million verdict.

Many railroad workers are exposed to harmful chemicals and substances in their line of work. If you are harmed on the railroad or injured, please call me at (866) 455-6657.

John Cooper