John J. Gerdausky, a railroad machinist suffering from asbestosis, filed a seven-count Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and Locomotive Boiler Inspection Act (LBIA) lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court Aug. 4.

Seeking at least $350,000 in damages, Gerdausky claims he contracted the illness through exposure to toxic substances including asbestos, diesel exhaust and/or organic chemicals while employed from 1942 to 1984 at Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Co. and Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co. (L&N).

Jane C. Gerdausky, also is seeking damages for loss of her husband's consortium.

Gerdausky names CSX Transportation Inc., L&N's successor, and Union Pacific Railroad Co., responsible for Eastern Illinois Railroad. It also includes American Standard Inc., Anchor Packing Co., Certainteed Corp., Garlock Sealing Technologies, Ingersoll-Rand Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Old Orchard Industrial Corp. and Owens-Illinois Inc.

He alleges the railroad defendants violated FELA by failing to provide him a safe environment and equipment, exposed him to toxic substances, did not warn him of exposure hazards and allowed unsafe work practices to become routine.

Gerdausky claims the railroads violated the LBIA by providing unsafe, contaminated locomotives. He alleges the non-railroad defendants were negligent for failing to warn users that asbestos products were hazardous.

In a count of civil conspiracy, Gerdausky alleges that medical and scientific information about the dangers of asbestos was "withheld, concealed and suppressed." Rather, "incorrect, incomplete, outdated and misleading" data was disseminated.

"Defendants, in concert, distorted the results of medical examinations conducted upon workers such as Mr. Gerdausky who were using asbestos-containing products by falsely stating and/or the nature and extent of the harm which workers such as Mr. Gerdausky had suffered," the complaint states.

Gerdausky is represented by William P. Gavin of the Gavin Law Firm in Belleville.

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