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Survey of Railroad Asbestos Verdicts and Settlements

Published on April 13th, 2022 by Andrew L. Hughes

Railroad asbestos cases have resulted in a wide range of verdicts and settlements. Bear in mind, some cases have resulted in “not guilty” verdicts where the sickened worker received nothing. Hughes Law Offices has compiled a few railroad asbestos verdicts and settlements below.

As you can see, in addition to asbestos, these cases often involve other workplace toxins like diesel fuel, diesel exhaustcreosotewelding fumessilica sandbenzene-containing solvents and degreasers, chlorinated solvents, herbicides, and secondhand smoke. While no two cases are alike, these results should give you some guidance regarding the potential settlement and verdict value of railroad asbestos claims, the nature of the exposures, and the affected workers.

  • $5,240,000 verdict – The Plaintiff worked for the Great Northern Railway (a predecessor to BNSF) as an apprentice carman in Waite Park, Minnesota for a little over two years. During his employment, he was exposed to asbestos fibers from various products. He later developed mesothelioma due to his asbestos exposure. The Jury awarded $3,240,000 for physical pain and an additional $2,000,000 for mental anguish. (Blommer v. BNSF)
  • $6,951,000 verdict – The Plaintiff worked as a boilermaker for Southern Pacific Railroad (which merged with UP in ‘96). During his time with the railroad, he was repeatedly exposed to asbestos at Southern Pacific’s Sacramento locomotive shops in California. As a result of his exposure, he developed malignant mesothelioma. (Emerson v. Union Pacific)
  • $5,000,000 verdict – Plaintiff worked at Norfolk Southern’s car repair shop at Lampert’s Point Yard, Virginia between 1979 and 1990 changing out asbestos-containing brake shoes. He was also exposed to other asbestos products such as pipe insulation. Plaintiff developed pulmonary fibrosis as a result of his exposures. The judgment was reduced by 80% to $1,000,000 to account for the Plaintiff’s long history of smoking. (Fowlkes v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.)
  • $19,170,000 verdict – Railroad carman worked for Central Railroad of New Jersey, Conrail, and for New Jersey Transit. During his employment, he was exposed to welding fumes, metal dust, silica, sawdust, and asbestos. As a result of his exposures, he developed pulmonary fibrosis and passed away at the age of 50. His estate brought suit for negligence under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Prior to trial, Conrail settled for $500,000. The Jury held New Jersey Transit 50% liable, Conrail 35% liable, Central Railroad 7% liable, and the Plaintiff 7% liable. The net reward was adjusted to $11,430,000 accordingly. (Fuccilli v. New Jersey Transit)
  • $1,500,000 verdict – The 68-year-old Plaintiff worked as a signal maintainer and carman at Norfolk Southern’s Elkhart and Robert’s Yard in Indiana. During his 36 years with the railroad, he was exposed to a number of toxic agents including diesel exhaust and asbestos. As a result of his exposure, he developed a metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the left cervical lymph nodes. The Jury found that NS was 65% responsible and attributed 35% of the responsibility to other contributing factors. The judgment was reduced accordingly to $975,000. (Grathen v. Consolidated Rail Corp.)
  • $18,000,000 verdict – Three railroad machinists who worked for Long Island Railroad at its Hillside and Morris Park maintenance yards in New York endured chronic asbestos exposure during their careers. As a result of their exposures, all three men developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asbestosis. The total jury verdict was divided between the three Plaintiffs into individual awards of $8 million, $6 million, and $4 million. The $4 million award was reduced to $2.4 million because of Plaintiff’s comparative negligence. (Harrington v. LIRR Co.)
  • $5,000,000 verdict – Railroad electrician worked at CSX’s Corbin Yard in Kentucky where he was exposed to asbestos and toxic chlorinated solvents including TCE, PERC, and TCA. As a result of his exposures, he was left with asbestosis and toxic encephalopathy.  (Hensley v. CSX Transp. Inc.)
  • $4,508,488 verdict – Plaintiff was employed by Conrail in the signal maintenance department working with railroad signals and in signal houses throughout Northern and Central Ohio. He often drilled into asbestos boards and was also exposed to silica and diesel fumes that contributed to his lung cancer diagnosis shortly after he retired. (Howell v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al)
  • $3,700,000 verdict – A former railroad engineer developed pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease, after a 29-year career working for BNSF. During his employment, he was exposed to diesel exhaust while riding in locomotives, silica dust from the railroad ballast, dust from the locomotive and sand hoppers, and asbestos from locomotive brake shoes and other sources. A lung biopsy revealed that metal particulates from diesel exhaust, silica dust, and asbestos were all present in his lung tissue. Evidence was presented showing that the railroad did not remove asbestos from its diesel locomotives until the late 1990s, despite the fact that the railroad was aware of the dangers of asbestos and silica dust as early as the 1930s. (Jolley v. BNSF)
  • $3,452,500 verdict – Retired railroad employee died of lung cancer as a result of workplace asbestos exposure. Verdict reduced to $3,107,250 for plaintiff’s tobacco use which may have contributed to lung cancer. (McGowan v. Central Illinois Railroad Co.)
  • $6,600,000 settlement – Railroad mechanic worked for Penn Central and later Amtrak at the Southampton Street Yard in Boston Massachusetts. During his employment, he worked with asbestos-containing pipe insulation, wall insulation, and brake shoes. As a result of his chronic asbestos exposure, he developed malignant pleural mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer closely associated with asbestos exposure. (Moneypenny v. Metropolitan Life Insurance, et al)
  • $8,600,000 verdict – Plaintiff worked as a railroad switchman for over 40 years, primarily at Witherspoon Scrapyard in South Knoxville, Tennessee. He was exposed to radiation, asbestos, and diesel fumes throughout his railroad career which contributed to his lung cancer diagnosis and eventual death. (Payne v. CSX Transportation)
  • $800,000 verdict – Retired trackman and machine operator worked for Conrail for approximately 20 years. He was exposed to asbestos while working in track gangs assigned to digging up and resurfacing tracks. As a result of his exposure, he developed pleural thickening, asbestosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. (Roger Alfman v. Conrail)
  • $4,255,000 verdict – Railroad mechanic worked in Illinois Central RR’s Trigg Avenue and Johnson yard maintenance shops in Memphis from 1974 to 2007. During his career, he was exposed to asbestos, diesel exhaust, and secondhand cigarette smoke. As a result of his exposures, he developed throat cancer leading to his death in 2008. The judgment was reduced to $3,335,685 to offset the medical expenses paid by the railroad on behalf of Mr. Russell. (Russell v. Illinois Central Railroad Company)
  • $2,500,000 verdict – 57-year-old maintenance-of-way worker was employed by CSX for 23 years during which time he was exposed to asbestos. As a result of his exposures, he developed pulmonary fibrosis. (Sirbaugh v. CSX)
  • $7,500,000 verdict – The Plaintiff was employed by CSX for 38 years working as a clerk and then later a supervisor at CSX’s Hamlet Yard in North Carolina. During his employment, he endured chronic asbestos exposure by breathing in ambient asbestos fibers which could be found in all areas of the facility. Three years after he retired, the Plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 59. His cancer required that his left lung and part of his stomach be removed and he underwent three courses of chemotherapy. Despite his treatment, by the time of trial, the Plaintiff had received a fatal prognosis. (Williams v. CSX)
  • $850,000 settlement – Railroad signalman worked for Western Pacific Railroad (a predecessor of Union Pacific) at its Sacramento and Oroville signal shops, both of which contained asbestos. Furthermore, the Plaintiff was required to work with asbestos-containing materials as part of his work duties. As a result of the unsafe working conditions, the Plaintiff developed mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. (Withrow v. Union Pacific)
  • $300,000 verdict – The Plaintiff worked as an accountant, computer operator and clerk at Union Pacific’s St. Louis Missouri office. The Plaintiff was exposed to asbestos dust and particles during the remodeling and renovation of the railroad’s administrative offices. As a result of this exposure, the Plaintiff developed asbestosis. The Jury apportioned 20% of the negligence to the Plaintiff and reduced the net verdict to $240,000. (Hedgecorth v. Union Pacific Railroad)
  • $382,028 verdict – Locomotive conductor based out of Illinois worked for Union Pacific for 25 years. During his time with the railroad, he regularly inhaled asbestos fibers while riding in cabooses that had asbestos shields to protect the wooden walls from the heat. As a result of his asbestos exposures, he developed mesothelioma. (Broadhacker v. St. Louis Southwestern Railway)
  • Undisclosed settlement – Hughes Law Offices represented a locomotive conductor who worked for Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and its predecessor Chicago and North Western Transportation Company (CNW). Our client worked for CNW and UP from 1973 to 2015. A few years after retiring, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. We filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County alleging that long-term exposures to asbestos, diesel exhaust, and secondhand tobacco smoke caused the colon cancer. During discovery, UP turned over a bid that it received for $678,000 to remove 24,000 square feet of asbestos-containing wall and ceiling panels from the Proviso Diesel Ramp, where our client reported for work. That bid was received in 2013. Our client was a non-smoker with no risk factors for colon cancer. Unfortunately, after he provided his trial testimony, our client passed away as a result of the cancer.

Hughes Law Offices is providing railroad asbestos case histories to inform visitors about actual case fact patterns and rulings. Unless specifically noted, the cases summarized herein were not handled by attorneys at Hughes Law Offices.

If you suspect that your illness or that of a loved one could be related to railroad asbestos exposures, please call 312-877-5588 to speak to a railroad cancer attorney.

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