Railroad worker sues over asbestos exposure

Kelly Holleran Apr. 12, 2010, 3:49am

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.

Walter V. Duffy worked for Illinois Central Railroad Company from 1952 until 1995 as a fireman and engineer, according to the complaint filed March 31 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Throughout his work in and around the shops, tracks, roundhouses and yards in Illinois, Duffy was exposed to asbestos dust or fibers, the suit states.

Because of his exposure, Duffy 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.

Duffy 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 also has a fear of contracting mesothelioma or another asbestos-caused cancer and has an increased risk of developing one of these diseases, the suit states.

Illinois Central Railroad Company was negligent by failing to provide Duffy with a safe place to work, by failing to furnish him with safe tools,by failing to warn him of the true nature of asbestos-containing products and by failing to operate the locomotive repair facility in a safe condition, 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.

Duffy 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 Duffy 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 Duffy with a separate locker for clothing worn home and failed to test products before employees used them, according to the complaint.

In his three-count suit, Duffy 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 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: 10-L-150.

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