As a result of occupational exposures to industrial solvents, many railroad workers are at an elevated risk of cancer, neurological disorders, and other long-term illnesses.

Which Railroad Solvents are Dangerous?

Just about every industrial solvent is somewhat hazardous. However, some types of solvents are more dangerous than others. Many petroleum solvents and chlorinated solvents are particularly dangerous. The railroads have relied upon both types.

railroad solvents & degreasers

Can Solvent Exposure Cause Cancer?

Yes. Exposure to certain industrial solvents can cause cancer. If you or a loved one has been exposed to industrial solvents and have been diagnosed with one of the following illnesses you may be eligible for compensation.

Can Solvent Exposure Cause Neurological Disorders?

Yes. Exposure to certain chlorinated solvents can cause permanent brain damage and may lead to neurological disorders. If you or a loved one has been exposed to industrial solvents and have been diagnosed with one of the following you may be eligible for compensation.

Which Railroad Workers Have Endured Dangerous Solvent Exposures?

Shop workers and car department employees have historically suffered some of the worst exposures. Crafts such as locomotive machinists used vast quantities of solvents to cut through the grime and grease that accumulated on railroad locomotives and equipment. The railroad employees who were made to use these potent chemicals often worked in poorly ventilated environments without even the most basic protective equipment. To make matters worse, the railroads assured their workers that any effects from the solvents – like dizziness or tingling hands – were temporary, and that the solvents were harmless. As a result, railroad workers did not try to limit their exposures. Many shop workers actually used these solvents to wash their hands and work clothes.

railroad parts washer

When did the Railroads Know Solvent Exposure was Harming Workers?

Internal railroad documents produced during litigation have revealed that the railroads were aware as early as the 1950s that solvents could harm workers and that respirators and gloves should be used when working with solvents.

Are Railroad Workers Still at Risk for Dangerous Solvent Exposure Today?

Chlorinated solvents have been largely phased out of use, but petroleum solvents are still widely used throughout the industry. Today, the benzene content in most petroleum solvents has been greatly reduced. However, there is no safe level of benzene exposure. Chronic exposure to trace quantities of benzene may amount to dangerous levels over time.

What can I do if I was Exposed to Industrial Solvents?

If you or a loved one were exposed to industrial solvents and have been diagnosed with a related disease, the attorneys at Hughes Law Offices may be able to help. These are complicated cases that require experienced attorneys. While you and your loved ones focus on recovery, let us do the work needed to prove your case. Contact Hughes Law Offices today at 312-877-5588 for a free attorney consultation.

Railroad Solvent Exposure Verdicts & Settlements

$7,500,000 verdict (Illinois, 2016)

The 51-year-old Plaintiff worked as a maintenance-of-way employee for Chicago & North Western Railway and its successor Union Pacific Railroad from 1976 to 2008. During his employment he endured years of exposure to benzene-laden chemicals such as petroleum solvents and creosote. Following these exposures, he developed acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive form of cancer that is heavily linked to benzene exposure. At trial, the jury awarded plaintiff compensation for the railroad’s failure to provide a safe workplace. (James Brown v. Union Pacific)

$5,000,000 verdict (Kentucky, 2006)

The 67 year old Plaintiff, a former railroad electrician, worked at CSX’s Corbin Yard in Kentucky where he was exposed to several chlorinated solvents as well as asbestos. Following his exposure he was diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy and asbestosis. As a result of his brain damage, he suffered from constant memory loss, anxiety, and depression. At trial, the Plaintiff produced MRI’s of his brain which revealed it had shrunk in size. (Hensley v. CSX Transp. Inc.)

$2,000,000 verdict (Kentucky, 2006)

A railroad machinist working at CSX’s South Louisville Yard in Kentucky was required to use DowClene, a mixture of two potent chlorinated solvents, to clean electrical equipment and locomotive parts. He was never instructed or trained to use a respirator and he eventually developed toxic encephalopathy. The judgment was reduced to $ 1,800,000 to reflect the finding of the Plaintiff’s 10% contributory negligence. (Williams v. CSX Transp. Inc.)

$12,000,000 verdict (North Carolina, 1997)

The 36-year-old plaintiff worked as a laborer at CSX’s Hamlet yard in North Carolina for approximately six years where he was exposed to various chlorinated solvents. The Plaintiff developed brain abnormalities consistent with toxic encephalopathy and chronic solvent-induced dementia. He suffered from severe short-term memory loss, severe difficulty concentrating, headaches, and other problems. Testing indicated that he was functioning at the cognitive level of an 80-year-old.  At trial, railroad workers testified how they would frequently feel dizzy and drunk from the solvent fumes. When they complained to supervisors they were simply told to go outside and take a “fresh air break.” Repeated requests for ventilators were either ignored or denied. Judgment was reduced by 12% for Plaintiff’s comparative negligence. (Crouch v. CSX)

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

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