A former Illinois Central Railroad Company employee has filed suit against the company, alleging he suffered a respiratory illness after being exposed to asbestos, diesel exhaust, environmental tobacco smoke, toxic dusts, gases and fumes while working.

Walter F. Fennell worked from 1970 until 2007 for the company, according to the complaint filed Jan. 15 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Because of his exposure to the materials, Fennell claims he has suffered great pain and disability, mental anguish and extreme nervousness because of his concern he will develop cancer, the suit states.

He also incurred substantial medical costs and lost large amounts of income because of his disability, Fennell alleges.

Illinois Central Railroad was negligent because it failed to provide Fennell with a safe place to work and with safe equipment, failed to warn him of the hazardous nature of the material with which he was working, failed to provide him with safe ventilation and failed to inspect its railroad for any of the materials that caused Fennell's illness, according to the complaint.

In the two-count suit, Fennell is seeking a judgment in excess of $100,000, plus costs.

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

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L0019.

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