A St. Louis attorney who brought more than 20 lung injury lawsuits against railroads in the Metro-East last year has unleashed another bundle of claims against Illinois Central Railroad in St. Clair County Circuit Court.
Representing 20 former railroad employees who claim they were exposed to asbestos emissions, Daniel Francis of the Francis Law Firm filed the cases individually under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) on March 6.
The plaintiffs state they were diagnosed with asbestosis; each complaint states a diagnosis was made on either March 20, 29, 30 or April 1, 2003.
Passed by the U.S. Congress in 1908, FELA was designed to protect and compensate railroaders who sustained injuries while working. Unlike state worker's compensation law, FELA requires the injured worker to prove that the railroad was "legally negligent," at least in part, in causing an injury.
Residency of the plaintiffs who filed claims on March 6, is not established in the filings.
Last month, Francis filed suit against Illinois Central Railroad in St. Clair County on behalf of a Florida woman who claims her husband died from an occupational lung disease.
On Dec. 22, 2005, Francis filed 20 cases against ICR in St. Clair County on behalf of former workers claiming asbestosis or silicosis.
The complaints did not list their residency.
"The Illinois Central Railroad Company is and was a corporation and common carrier by railroad, owning operating and maintaining an interstate railroad system, including track facilities and business operations within St. Clair County," the complaints typically state.
Other suits filed by Francis include a Madison County case against ICR filed June 27, 2005, on behalf of a Belleville woman whose husband died from an asbestos-related illness, and one against CSX Transportation filed in St. Clair County on Jan. 18, 2005, on behalf of a Danville man.
According to the complaints, the railroad required employees to be exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos even when the risks were known. The plaintiffs also claim the railroad failed to warn them of the risk of asbestos exposure and to eliminate certain job duties, equipment or practices to minimize the levels of asbestos.
They claim that in the past and for an indefinite period of time in the future they experience pain, suffering, inconvenience, irritation and annoyance, and have become liable for medical expenses, treatment, and possible cure.
Plaintiffs also claim lost wages, and the loss of general health, strength, vitality and ability to enjoy the various pleasures of life.