A former Union Pacific Railroad employee has filed suit against the company, claiming he received spinal damage as a result of his work for the company.

Art W. Stewart worked as a switchman, brakeman and conductor throughout the scope of his employment with the company from April 13, 1968, until Sept. 11, 2007, according to the complaint filed Oct. 16 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

For his jobs, Stewart was required to ride on locomotives, walk on uneven ballast surfaces, dismount locomotives, bend, twist and operate handbrakes that were poorly maintained, the suit states.

All of these actions caused Stewart to develop a degenerative condition of his spine, he claims.

His spinal condition has caused Stewart great pain, disability, mental anguish, extreme nervousness and substantial medical costs, according to the complaint.

Stewart has also lost income because of his disability, the suit states.

He claims Union Pacific was negligent because it failed to provide him with a safe place to work and safe equipment, failed to adequately maintain its tracks, failed to equip its locomotives with safe seats and failed to maintain the handbrakes Stewart was required to operate.

In addition, Union Pacific negligently failed to determine or warn Stewart of the hazards of his job, required him to operate handbrakes when the company should have known it would be difficult, failed to train him on how to avoid risks, permitted unsafe work practices to become routine and required Stewart to work on locomotives it knew would vibrate excessively, the suit states.

The company also required Stewart to mount and dismount from unsafe heights and from moving railroad cars whose steps were at an unsafe distance from the ground, according to the complaint.

In the three-count suit, Stewart is seeking a judgment in excess of $150,000, plus costs.

William P. Gavin of The Gavin Law Firm in Belleville will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 08-L-522.

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