Survey of Railroad Cancer Verdicts and Settlements

Railroad cancer 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 compiled a few cases below.

As you can see, these cases often involve diesel exhaust along with other workplace toxins like solvents, silica sand and asbestos. While no two cases are alike, these results should give you some guidance regarding the potential settlement and verdict value of railroad cancer claims, the types of exposures, and the affected workers.

  • $19,100,000 verdict – railroad carman died of pulmonary fibrosis following 18 years of welding, sanding and painting for his railroad employer. Carman also worked around asbestos-containing brakes and silica dust. Plaintiff was further exposed to metal dust and welding fumes.
  • $2,600,000 verdict – locomotive engineer in his early 60’s developed diesel asthma as a result of exposure to diesel exhaust while riding in locomotives. Asthma condition permanent and would reduce life expectancy.
  • $3,335,685 verdict – Illinois Central Railroad mechanic from Memphis’ Johnston Yard diagnosed with squamous cell oropharyngeal (throat) cancer in his 40’s and was declared cured of the cancer in mid-1990’s. After the initial diagnosis, he went back to work for Illinois Central and the cancer returned in 2007 resulting in his death in 2008. Cancer was caused by mechanic’s workplace exposures to diesel exhaust, asbestos and second-hand cigarette smoke.
  • $7,500,000 verdict – CNW and UP trackman developed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) as a result of long-term exposures to creosote, degreasing solvents and lead. Railroad failed to provide necessary protective clothing.
  • $800,000 verdictrailroad trackman/machine operator diagnosed with asbestosis, COPD and cancerphobia via toxic exposures at workplace, including asbestos.
  • $1,500,000 verdict – railroad maintenance of way/trackman/machine operator developed silicosis as a result of silica dust exposure via work on “double broom” machine, ballast dumper and ballast regulator.
  • $5,700,000 verdict – trainman died of nasopharyngeal cancer as a result of working on-board locomotives filled with diesel exhaust.
  • $3,700,000 verdict – retired locomotive engineer diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis around age 72 resulting from 29 years of workplace exposures to diesel exhaust, silica dust and asbestos. Plaintiff claimed disease was chronic and would eventually lead to his death.
  • $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.
  • $3,500,000 verdict – 61 year old railroad conductor diagnosed with interstitial fibrosis and an increased risk of lung cancer as a result of exposure to diesel exhaust. Plaintiff rode in cabooses and he deadheaded in second and third locomotives in the consist.
  • $872,756 verdict – retired locomotive engineer diagnosed with COPD, heart conditions and laryngeal cancer stemming from diesel exhaust exposure on board locomotives. Jury voted to reduce verdict by 82% for the COPD and heart condition injuries and 85% for the laryngeal cancer but the court ruled that there would be no reduction in damages where jury also found that railroad allowed diesel exhaust inside cabs of locomotives in violation of strict liability federal statute.
  • $837,000 verdict – former locomotive fireman and engineer with throat cancer and oxygen-dependent lung disease alleged that workplace exposures to asbestos, diesel exhaust and other toxins contributed to his illnesses. GTW denied liability and blamed the plaintiff’s smoking habit.
  • $750,000 settlement – 50 year old brakeman/conductor for railroad died of lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos and other dangerous materials in locomotives and facilities.
  • $750,000 settlementrailroad machinist exposed to heavy concentrations of diesel exhaust in Norfolk Southern’s roundhouse in Roanoke, Virginia as well as benzene-containing solvents and degreasers diagnosed with multiple myeloma which resulted in his death three years after diagnosis.
  • $250,000 verdict – retired railroad engineer diagnosed with asbestosis, COPD & aggravation of pre-existing genetic disease stemming from work around asbestos, silica dust and diesel exhaust.
  • $125,000 settlement – retired railroad worker with COPD and asbestosis blamed workplace exposures to asbestos, diesel exhaust and silica sand for illnesses. RR blamed plaintiff’s long history of smoking. Plaintiff became disabled at age 59 as result of alleged work-related illnesses.
  • $200,000 settlement – railroad employee disabled from working at age 55 due to workplace exposures to diesel exhaust, asbestos and silica sand resulting in diagnoses of COPD, asbestosis and other lung illnesses. RR claimed no asbestos-related disease and that COPD was related to plaintiff’s extensive smoking habit.
  • $668,100 verdicttrain conductor forced to retire at the age of 60 due to diesel asthma caused by regular exposure to diesel exhaust while running poorly maintained locomotives.
  • $625,000 verdict – 53 year old locomotive engineer developed diesel asthma as a result of his prolonged exposure to diesel exhaust while deadheading in second locomotives, operating locomotives long nose forward and running locomotives in poor repair that allowed diesel exhaust to come up into the cab through the floors.
  • Confidential settlement in excess of $1,000,000railroad fireman and engineer diagnosed with Stage IV adenocarcinoma of the lung with metastasis to the spine alleged that workplace exposures to diesel exhaust and asbestos resulted in the disease.
  • $950,000 settlement on eve of trial – 62 year old railroad trackman died of gastric cancer. Exposure to diesel exhaust, creosote, calcium chloride, herbicide and pesticides.
  • $950,000 settlement on eve of trial – 38 year old railroad trackman diagnosed with Stage-4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Ongoing chemotherapy treatments. Exposure to diesel exhaust, creosote, calcium chloride, herbicides and pesticides.
  • 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 couple 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 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 or a loved one worked for the railroad and received a cancer diagnosis, email FELA cancer railroad trackman cancerattorney Andrew Hughes at or call him at (312) 877-5588 today. Your time to file a claim may be running out.

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