Fear of future cancer drives federal asbestos suit

By Steve Gonzalez | Oct 19, 2005

Four former employees of Illinois Central Railroad (ICR) filed a Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) suit in U.S. District Court Oct. 17, alleging fear of future cancer and/or asbestosis.

Stephen Baker, Stephen Witt, G.B. Shirley and Charles Kileen allege that they were required to work with and around asbestos-containing products in ICR’s railroad shops and facilities in Illinois, Tennessee and Mississippi.

“The plaintiffs were required to work with and in the vicinity of toxic substances, including asbestos and asbestos-containing materials which caused them to contract significant and permanent injury to their respective persons,” the complaint states.

The plaintiffs claim they were unaware of the dangers of asbestos that they were required to work with and were also unaware of their latent abnormal medical conditions.

According to the complaint, the railroad failed to:

  • Provide plaintiffs with a reasonably safe place to work;
  • Furnish plaintiffs with safe and suitable tools and equipment, including protective inhalation devices;
  • Warn plaintiffs of the true nature and hazardous effects of the asbestos;
  • Operate the locomotive repair facility in a safe and reasonable manner; and
  • Provide instructions or a method for the safe use of asbestos.

    The plaintiffs claim they have lost the enjoyment of life and retirement, their life spans have been greatly shortened, they've suffered an impairment of earning capacities and incurred medical expenses.

    “The plaintiffs were strong and able-bodied men and were gainfully employed prior to the manifestation of their illness,” the complaint states.

    The plaintiffs claims they have suffered damages by way of lost earning capacity, fear of future cancer and/or progressive asbestosis, and by way of their diminished ability to render services, society, affection, counseling and support to their households and families.

    They are seeking monetary damages, costs and all other relief permitted by law.

    William Gavin of the Gavin Law Firm in Belleville represents the plaintiffs.

    The case has been assigned to District Judge Michael Reagan.


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