Railroad worker claims asbestos-related disease

Kelly Holleran Feb. 18, 2009, 5:00am

A former Illinois Central Railroad Company employee has filed suit against the company, alleging he has contracted an asbestos-related disease because of his work for the railroad.

James A. Miller worked for Illinois Central Railroad Company from 1946 until 1951 as a machinist apprentice and machinist, according to the complaint filed Feb. 13 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Throughout his work in, on and around locomotive boilers, Miller was exposed to asbestos dust or fibers, the suit states.

Because of his exposure, Miller claims he has contracted an asbestos-related disease, has suffered great pain, extreme nervousness and mental anguish and believes his illness is permanent in nature.

Miller has also incurred medical costs, has sustained a loss of earnings, has experienced a diminished ability to render services, society, affection, counseling and support to his family and has experienced a shortened life expectancy, according to the complaint.

He has also been impaired of his enjoyment of life, has a fear of contracting mesothelioma or another asbestos-caused disease and has an increased risk of developing one of these diseases, the suit states.

"Plaintiff is now highly susceptible to future injuries and diseases, including various types of cancer," the suit states.

Illinois Central Railroad Company was negligent by failing to warn Miller of the true nature and hazardous effects of asbestos-containing products, according to the complaint.

The railroad also negligently failed to provide instructions or a method for the safe use of asbestos-containing products, the suit states.

Miller also claims Illinois Central Railroad Company was negligent by failing to provide him with safe and proper ventilation systems and by requiring employees to work with ultra-hazardous products.

The company negligently failed to periodically test Miller to determine if he was subject to any ill effects, failed to limit access to areas where asbestos-containing products were being used, failed to provide Miller with a separate locker for clothing worn home and failed to test products before employees used them, according to the complaint.

In the three-count suit, Miller is seeking a judgment in excess of $50,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems appropriate.

He is represented by William P. Gavin of the Gavin Law Firm in Belleville, by H. Seward Lawlor and Kip A. Harbison of Glasser and Glasser in Norfolk and by Willard J. Moody Jr. of Moody, Strople, Kloeppel and Higginbotham in Portsmouth.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-0079.

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