Norfolk Southern laborer fears mesothelioma, suit claims

Kelly Holleran Sep. 12, 2011, 9:26am

A man fears he will contract mesothelioma after his encounter with asbestos throughout his career with the railroad, according to recently filed court documents.

Wallace Holtzclaw claims he worked as a roundhouse laborer, shop laborer, trackman and track foreman for defendant Norfolk Southern Railway Company from 1951 until 1991.

Throughout his career, Holtzclaw was exposed to asbestos dust or fibers, silica dust and coal dust, which has caused him to contract an unspecified asbestos-related disease, according to the complaint.

Because of his inhalation of the chemicals, Holtzclaw suffered from extreme nervousness and mental anguish and incurred medical costs, the suit states. In addition, he lost earnings and his earning capacity; experienced a diminished ability to render services, society, affection, counseling and support to his family; and has a shortened life expectancy, the complaint says.

Holtzclaw blames Norfolk Southern for causing his distress, saying the railroad negligently failed to provide instructions on the safe use of asbestos, failed to test materials prior to employees' exposure to them and failed to provide him with safe ventilation systems.

In his three-count complaint, Holtzclaw is seeking a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

He will be represented by William P. Gavin of Gavin Law Firm in Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-476.

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