Fear of mesothelioma prompts suit against Illinois Central Railroad

Kelly Holleran Oct. 27, 2011, 2:43am


A former railroad employee alleges he developed a non-cancerous disease after working near asbestos throughout his nearly 40-year career.

Donald D. Hongsermeier claims he worked as a hostler, fireman and engineer for defendant Illinois Central Railroad Company from 1953 until 1991. During his career, Hongsermeier was exposed to asbestos dust or fibers, according to the complaint filed Oct. 19 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

As a result of his exposure, Hongsermeier suffered great pain, extreme nervousness and mental anguish and developed the non-malignant disease, which he does not specify in his complaint, the suit states. In addition, he incurred medical costs, lost his earnings and his earning capacity, experienced a diminished ability to render services and sustained a shortened life expectancy, the complaint says.

Hongsermeier claims he now suffers from mental anxiety and a fear of the worsening of his condition, which he is scared will develop into mesothelioma or some other form of cancer.

Illinois Central Railroad Company negligently failed to provide Hongsermeier with a safe place to work, failed to provide him with safe tools and equipment, failed to warn him of the hazardous nature of the products with which he was working, failed to drive in a safe manner, failed to provide instructions for the safe use of asbestos products and failed to test products before exposing employees to them, according to the complaint.

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

William P. Gavin of the Gavin Law Firm in Belleville, Kip A. Harbison of Glasser and Glasser in Norfolk, Va. and William J. Moody of The Moody Law Firm in Portsmouth, Va. will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-590.

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