Asbestosis claimed in switchman's suit against Alton and Southern

Kelly Holleran Mar. 4, 2010, 8:00am

A man and his wife have filed suit against The Alton and Southern Railway Company, alleging the man developed asbestosis after he was exposed to asbestos fibers throughout the course of his work for the company.

Melvin J. Robinson and his wife, Jo Ann Robinson, claim Melvin Robinson began working as a switchman for The Alton and Southern Railway Company in 1955 and continued to work in that capacity until 1992.

During the course of his employment, Robinson worked around a number of asbestos-containing products, including pipe and block insulation, gaskets, packing, cements, brake shoes and brake linings, according to the complaint filed Feb. 26 in Madison County Circuit Court.

"Asbestos and asbestos fibers got into the lungs of Melvin J. Robinson, when he breathed the air while actually working with or around asbestos-containing products and while working with or around members of other trade unions," the suit states.

During his employment, Melvin Robinson remained unaware of the dangers of asbestos and later developed body and respiratory system problems, including asbestosis, which he was diagnosed with on Aug. 28, 2009, the complaint says.

As a result, Robinson claims he has suffered great pain, extreme nervousness, mental anguish and disability and incurred medical costs.

The Alton and Southern Railway Company were guilty of a number of negligent acts, including failure to provide Robinson with a safe workplace, failure to furnish Robinson with safe tools, failure to warn Robinson of the hazardous effects of asbestos, failure to operate the locomotive repair facility in a safe manner, failure to provide instructions for the safe use of asbestos, failure to provide instructions on the safe removal of asbestos and failure to test asbestos-containing products to determine their ultra-hazardous nature, according to the complaint.

In the three-count suit, the Robinsons are seeking a judgment of more than $150,000.

They will be represented by Elizabeth V. Heller and Robert Rowland of Goldenberg, Heller, Antognoli and Rowland in Edwardsville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-206.

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