Prostate cancer caused by diesel exhaust, tobacco smoke exposure, suit says

By Ann Knef | Aug 13, 2007

A Union Pacific fireman and engineer claims his exposure to diesel exhaust and tobacco smoke caused him to develop prostate cancer.

Seeking in excess of $100,000 in damages, Walter H. Obermann filed a Federal Employers' Liability (FELA) suit in St. Clair County Circuit Courty Aug. 6.

Obermann also is seeking compensation under the Locomotive Boiler Inspection Act.

He claims that while employed from March 1971 through July 2005 his employer failed to provide him a safe place to work. Among other things, he claims Union Pacific failed to warn him of the hazardous nature of diesel exhaust and environmental tobacco smoke.

"(Union Pacific) failed to inspect its locomotives, cars, cabooses, appurtenances, and other equipment and buildings in order to determine their propensity for contamination by diesel exhaust and environmental tobacco smoke," the complaint states.

Obermann claims he suffers pain, disability, mental anguish and "extreme nervousness as a result of his fear of the unknown effects of cancer, and the reasonable concern over the prospects of redeveloping prostate or some other type of cancer caused by his exposure...," the complaint states.

He is represented by William P. Gavin of Belleville.

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