Cases are Settled After Chemical Exposure Leads to Cancer in Conrail, NJT Employees

John-cooperBy John Cooper, FELA Injury Lawyer

As an attorney who represents injured railroad workers across the country, I often deal with injuries on the railroads involving broken bones or spinal injuries cause by accidents or falls.

But working on the railroad can also expose you to a number of hazardous chemicals and substances which can cause serious and potentially life-threatening conditions.

Recently two cases of hazardous exposure in New Jersey were settled for $2.05 million. In the first case the plaintiff’s husband had worked for Conrail from 1980 to 1987 and for New Jersey Transit from 1997 to 2008, reported FELA Reporter. He was diagnosed with gastric cancer in 2009 and died two years later at 62.


There was a second case involving a 42-year-old worker who started working for New Jersey Transit in 1991. He was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2010 and was reported to be undergoing chemotherapy at the time of the case.

Both of the workers were trackmen. In their complaints it was alleged that a combination of pesticides, herbicides, diesel exhaust, creosote, calcium and chloride, led to their cancers. The railroad was accused of failing to warn the workers of the dangers they faced and failing to provide proper equipment. The lawsuits said no tests were carried out on the air and soil at the worksites.

Both of the cases were consolidated at trial. Conrail settled with the first plaintiff for $150,000 before jury selection. NJT settled with each plaintiff for $950,000 after jury selection.  All cases are different and we cannot guarantee the same result in a given case.

The plaintiffs were represented by Barry Eichen, William Crutchlow and Thomas Rinaldi of New Jersey.

Railroad workers come into contact with many dangerous materials. Asbestos, a material commonly used as insulation and for other purposes, caused the scarring of the lung tissue for many decades and is linked to cancer and mesothelioma. Although there has been a considerable effort to remove asbestos from homes and buildings since the 1970s, it continues to pose a grave threat to rail workers, because it was commonly used in brake shoes and to line other components of a train car. Workers who helped remove asbestos from trains back in the 1980s may have only recently developed symptoms due to their exposure more than 30 years ago. Diesel fumes on trains are also linked to cancers.

Many railroad workers know that the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) protects them if they have been injured in a railroad accident. If you’re a rail worker suffering from lung cancer or any other disease, it is important to know that it also offers a potential legal remedy if your illness can be linked to your job.  Call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at (866) 455-6657.


Railroad Workers, Coal, Black Lung, and Compensation

John-cooperBy John Cooper, Railroad Workers Injury Lawyer

Coal dust and its harmful effects when airborne hit the headlines this summer when the Virginian-Pilot reported on the coal dust present in the air in the Lamberts Point neighborhood of Norfolk due to the Lamberts Point terminal processing of coal. Most of Lamberts Point terminal is excluded from clean air regulations due to it being built prior to the Clean Air Act of 1970. This mean it can take a backseat on positive measures to reduce the amount of air pollution at the terminal. Norfolk Southern has tried to dismiss concerns in regards to the harm coal dust poses in the past which is troubling.

Coal dust is an extremely deadly substance and is known to cause Pneumoconiosis, better known as ‘Black Lung Disease’, which according to the American Lung Association has no known cure or treatment. As such the US Department of Labor provides worker compensation as well as survivors benefits to “coal miners” disabled by Black Lung Disease as mandated by the Black Lung Benefits Act.

In 1990 Olen R. Roberson, a former employee with Norfolk and Western Railway Company, was awarded benefits from Black Lung Disease he’d contracted while working as railroad worker around coal by the Department of Labor. Norfolk and Western Railway Company sued saying that railroad workers were not eligible for compensation. However, the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, ruled that railroad workers who worked with coal were able to receive benefits from contracting Black Lung Disease, a decision that was upheld by the US Supreme Court. Norfolk and Western Railway Company sued again that year in another case of a railway worker awarded compensation for Black Lung Disease and again lost.

Railroad workers who work around open topped coal cars and are exposed to coal dust are at risk of contracting Black Lung Disease. If you suffer from any of the symptoms consult a physician.

Norfolk and Western Railways merged with Norfolk Southern in 1982. However it continued paper operations 1997 until it fully merged with the company.

If you have suffered an illness related to industry or have been hurt working on the railroad, call me at Cooper Hurley Injury lawyers at 757.455.0077.