BELLEVILLE – A former railroad fireman and engineer claims his exposure to diesel fumes and second-hand smoke over the course of more than four decades led to him contracting bladder cancer.
Charles Baker, who worked for a number of railroad companies from 1976 to 2009, filed suit against several of them in St. Clair County Circuit Court on Nov. 15.
The suit names American Premier Underwriters and its predecessors, Penn Central Transportation Co., and The Pennsylvania Railroad Co. Baker worked for this first defendant from 1968 to 1976.
The suit also names the Consolidated Rail Corp. and the Indianapolis Union Railway Co., which he worked for from 1976 to 1999, and CSX Transportation, his employer during the remainder of his career.
He alleges that the defendants are responsible for his bladder cancer, which was diagnosed in 2018.
"A substantial portion of plaintiff's exposures to the substances alleged ... occurred in Illinois, including St. Clair County, Madison County, and Marion County, Illinois," according to the suit filed by Baker, who was employed as a fireman, hostler and engineer during the working lifetime.
It is alleged in the counts against the defendants that the plaintiff "was exposed to toxic substances in the state of Illinois, including but not limited to, diesel exhaust, second-hand tobacco smoke, and the components and metabolites of said toxic substances."
His exposure to these substances "caused him, in whole or in part, to develop" bladder cancer, the suit states.
The defendants are alleged to have violated the Federal Employers Liability Act for allegedly negligently failing to provide the plaintiff with a reasonably safe place to work and protect him from exposure to toxic substances.
They are also alleged to have violated the Locomotive Inspection Act by operating locomotives that were unsafe because they were contaminated by toxic substances.
"Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer great pain and disability, loss of enjoyment of life, genuine and serious mental anguish, and extreme nervousness as a result of his reasonable concern over his injuries and plaintiff incurred and will continue to incur great expense in endeavoring to be cured of his injuries," the suit states.
He is seeking more than $50,000 and is represented by William P. Gavin of the Gavin Law Firm of Swansea.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 2019-L-803