Virginia family files FELA suit in Madison County

Steve Gonzalez Aug. 13, 2008, 11:56am

The estate of a Charlottesville, Va., man filed a Federal Employers' Liability Act complaint in Madison County Circuit Court against CSX Transportation alleging asbestos exposure.

Edgar Goodman's estate claims during the course of his employment he was exposed to and inhaled, ingested or otherwise absorbed large amounts of asbestos fibers emanating from products he was working with and around.

Goodman was employed from 1947 to 1951 as a signalman for CSX Transportation, the complaint said.

Passed by Congress in 1908, FELA was designed to protect and compensate railroaders who sustain injuries while working.

Unlike state workers' compensation laws, FELA requires the injured worker to prove that the railroad was "legally negligent," at least in part, in causing an injury.

Goodman's estate alleges his exposure and inhalation, ingestion or absorption of the asbestos fibers was completely foreseeable and could or should have been anticipated by CSX.

Goodman was diagnosed with mesothelioma July 1, 2005.

According to the complaint, Goodman worked with and around pipe and block insulation, sheet rock, joint compounds, gaskets, packing, cements and brake shoes, all of which contained asbestos.

His estate alleges CSX violated provisions of FELA by negligently failing to provide him a safe place to work, failing to furnish suitable tools and equipment including adequate protective masks, failed to warn of the true nature and hazardous effects of asbestos and failing to provide instructions for the safe use of asbestos.

In addition, Goodman's estate alleges CSX failed to test asbestos containing products prior to requiring employees to work with them, failed to provide safe and proper ventilation systems in the repair facilities, failed to exercise reasonable care in enforcing a safety plan and method of handling and installing asbestos and required employees to work with an ultra hazardous product.

Under FELA, injured workers can seek compensation for past and future wage losses, medical expenses and treatments, pain and suffering, and for partial or permanent disability.

If an employee dies, survivors are entitled to recover damages which they have suffered because of the death, under the federal law.

After proving negligence, the injured worker is entitled to full compensation, which is usually many times greater than that provided by state workers' compensation benefits for non-railroaders which provide benefits on a no-fault basis.

Goodman's estate alleges he suffered exposure to toxic substances including asbestos which caused him to sustain severe and permanent injuries to his respiratory system which resulted in impairment and disability.

His estate also alleges that prior to his death, Goodman suffered great pain, extreme nervousness, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and medical expenses.

The estate also alleges that it has become liable for funeral and burial expenses.

Goodman's estate is seeking damages to exceed $250,000, plus all costs of the lawsuit.

Keith Short, Elizabeth Heller and Robert Rowland of Edwardsville represent Goodman's estate.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Barbara Crowder.

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